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The raw facts on the Big C

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Health and Wellness

The raw facts on the Big C

/ 08:51 PM February 04, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Coconut Pasta (Contributed photo)

We have been BFF (best friends forever) for more than half our lives, Girlie Martin Ros and I, and have journeyed together, working closely and keeping our bonds tight despite distance. There were also many parallel points in our divergent paths. For instance, after decades of silence we found each other in Palawan, she in a coastal farm and me in Puerto Princesa City, both of us determined to live close to nature.

Despite all these, it was too terrible a coincidence when we were both diagnosed with the Big C almost at the same time.

Girlie had a stage four stomach cancer and I was told I had a stage 2 thyroid C.

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All of a sudden we were caught in a down spiral of tests and laboratory analysis and doctors’ edicts, dire and threatening. Our language became burdened with such terms as crea results and BUN, CT scans and ultrasound, and we felt like we were under the ominous umbrella that automatically covers those diagnosed with C. Our lives which used to revolve around visits to farm and forest and bonding over coffee and pastries while in the city, shifted to daily schedules built around doctors and therapists, with us holding our breath while waiting for results.

Recounts Girlie on how she was diagnosed: “There were no signs, no unusual pain.  I felt strong and qualified as a kidney donor for my sister.  Because of her diabetes, my younger sister was diagnosed with ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease) and began having dialysis treatment in December, 2010.   With kidney transplant being a possibility, we both went through the lab tests needed under the kidney matching program.

“If not for those series of tests, my condition might still be undetected to this day and it might have been too late,” Girlie adds. The “incidental findings” turned out to be stomach cancer, or Poorly Differentiated Gastric Adenocarcinoma at Stage 4.

Lasagna Cake (Contributed photo)

“My first thought?  I’m grateful it wasn’t any of my loved ones [who had this].  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“Conventional doctors will do their best to help you but ultimately, it’s your choice, and your body. Will you have that surgery?  Would you go for chemo treatment? What about radiation?”

“A walking time bomb”

Before I learned the doctor’s diagnosis of my ailment, I brought Girlie to see a healer, Fr. Efren (Momoy) Borromeo, who is widely acknowledged even by medical doctors.  To my surprise, Fr. Momoy focused on me and my throat area and declared me to be a walking time bomb!

After a series of tests and the dire confirmation of thyroid C, the doctors said it was non-negotiable: Surgery was the only step. There were unhealthy cells that had to be wiped out if I were to be healthy again.  There was no other choice.

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When people are diseased, there is an unconscious abdication of control over one’s life and limb to someone who is believed to be the expert. We are no longer at ease with what used to work for us, so we say a relieved “Amen!” to someone who can tell us what to do.

I was all set for surgery, though with misgivings. Then I decided to call Girlie who had been through the same indecision about surgery. I listened and decided to postpone surgery. She shared: “There is an alternative.  After some soul-searching and studying, I chose to go natural, with a plant-based diet and supplements.  I thought that since the chemo could not guarantee that it will kill only the bad cells and not the good, I’d rather just protect the good ones and help them become stronger by what I eat and the supplements I take.  It is a kinder, gentler and less invasive way towards a possible cure, the natural way.”

One visit to naturopath Dr. Judea Millora had me convinced that there was an alternative to just lopping off the offending organ. She put me on nature-based medication designed to do what a chemo does without the violence and the trauma. There was a host of pills and potions but the most demanding was the detox diet.

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?: Chef Elaina Love (third from right) with her raw foods students (Contributed photo)

Taking responsibility

Instead of abdicating to a prescription, I decided to take responsibility for myself and my well-being. I would be the last word in my healing because this was, after all, my body. Knowing that I had undue reactions to antibiotics and steroids, I opted for the natural path.

The doctor-patient relationship here is that of a partnership – we listen and respect each other’s viewpoint. Dr. Millora is open and supportive of my efforts, and put me on the Gerson diet in addition to a host of nature-based medicines. My diet consisted of 13 glasses of carrot/apple juice a day; then green smoothies sourced from my garden using a special juicer to preserve the enzymes. The focus was on keeping those enzymes alive and to get them directly into one’s system. So it was camote (sweet potato) tops (for the iodine I needed to balance out the thyroid functions), malunggay (moringa) for vitality and healing, ashitaba for the circulation and inflammations, guyabano (graviola or soursop) tops and a fruit to sweeten it all up. The guyabano or graviola is a proven anti-cancer food and ashitaba was initially discovered by Japanese herbalists to be effective for inflammations; it works just as well as a cleansing agent to flush out body waste. Ashitaba has no local name though it is available in most gardens and organic markets.

A detox regimen

The healing approach is multi-level, so enemas are a vital part of detox, and so is skin brushing which dislodges excreted toxins in skin cells.

It was tough initially. Cancer thrives on fat cells, so weight loss was vital. Because C cells also love sweets, I had to have an absolutely no-sugar regimen.  With a low-salt diet as well, it became difficult, but surgery was tougher for me because of my grave reactions to steroids and antibiotics.

Detox is essentially a purification process that can happen when we hold off  our usual food intake to let our systems rest so the accumulated toxins can be swept away.  Toxins hide like criminals in the mucous lining of our intestines, in fat cells and the kidneys. These toxic stuff contribute greatly to the sickness and aging process of cells.  It does not happen overnight but all the unwanted waste can pile up in our organs and one day, we just might find ourselves very ill with the Big C.

To maximize the benefits of detoxification, I took a Detox Chef course in Thailand with Elaina Love, long considered one of the international mainstays in raw cuisine and detox (see sidebar).  Based in Arizona, Elaina goes around the globe giving raw food and detox workshops. Her main credential is her going through the process herself for years, working with established practitioners in the United States.  Filipina Asha Peri assists Elaina and gives regular raw food workshops in Pasig.

Raw is in because anything prepared under 104 degrees protects and preserves the enzymes, the life giving elements in vegetables and fruits. Taking enzymes directly as juice or raw food gives the body powerful benefits.

There are many types of detox programs, one of the most popular being that used by Hollywood stars to keep themselves svelte. Our detox regimen is also slimming but that’s just one of its benefits.  Ours is basically a Juice Feast, a fast from our usual diet which allows our digestive system to restore itself as it uses the energy it usually uses for digestion to instead clean out the accumulation of an estimated five to ten pounds of toxic waste lodged in our organs. These wastes come from all those chemical preservatives, heavy metals, pesticides, drug residues and other poisons that we relentlessly take in everyday through the food we mindlessly eat.

Healing needs lots of personal commitment, tons of determination, a steel will and a good juicer and blender. My trusted juicer, Matt (from the brand name, Mattstone) goes everywhere with me.

Initially I lapsed into a “poor-me” mode like the prototype C patient.  It’s a shroud of negative emotions triggered by some well-meaning relatives and friends who give you the most pitiful look and set you up for the victim stage, short sob story and all-with  sympathetic pats on the shoulder and audible sighs of commiseration. After a while, it gets infuriating, as if someone had issued you a death sentence and these sympathizers were walking you to the gallows. But you just have to pick yourself up and put on your courage cap, even if it means whistling in the dark at times.

Life to the max

I have always considered my life to be a journey and disease is just a fork in the road, bringing me to a space where eventually I find more meaning and light.

I’ve made a conscious decision to live my life to the max, to do all that could be done to heal myself.  I refuse to be the subject of clucking comfort sounds. Tea and sympathy are not for me though I value everyone’s concern.

Instead of cocooning with the dis-ease, I butterfly-ed, claimed my flight through the flowers in the garden of life . The C was nothing compared to what I had been through in other times and places. This involved shifting my mind frame from Poor C Patient to Life Traveler mode, finding meaning in what was happening to me and going through a very thorough purification.

I went on trips previously planned, even if I had to be hospitalized in Rajasthan province, India. Life goes on and I continue to do my job, even if I was a dingbat on some days and pushed  people to their edge.  Thanks to my detox program, I had more than enough energy to do my usual tasks and more. Of course, it helped that my affliction was “most treatable” and medics say that if there was a choice as to the type of C one could have, it would be this.

I did not carouse nor paint the town red (been there, done that in my younger days) but I did spend time watching the light shift on the mountains fronting my porch in Palawan, revealing hills and dales at times and rain clouds the next moment. I spent more time doing yoga, stretching out moments of bliss. I tried to live out most of my dreams (which now include this meditation/purification farm in Laguna) even as I comb through my relationships and contracts, putting things to right. Yes, we detox even our friendships.

My father is 88 years old and still hale; I spend time with him reminiscing and doing things he likes to do. I gather the grandchildren and great-grandchildren to sing and dance for him. I never thought of doing a bucket list, it was too much drama. I just love myself more.

No guarantees

I am watching what happens everyday. There are no set answers, no guarantees, but my actual experience is that with detox and natural medication, I’ve gotten off most of the symptoms of the dis-ease. The chronic fatigue syndrome is a thing of the past.

Now I have so much energy: I get up at 3:30 a.m. to meditate and go on to do the single parent role, and that of solo lola, provider, business person, nurturer, friend, mom, writer and now detox chef. The allergies are gone too, as are the bloating, the unwanted weight and shortness of breath, the clumps of falling hair.  My latest tests show a reduction in size of the bad node.

Girlie and I have talked about our option often and we agree that it has given us quality of life as opposed to struggling against death or disease.  It is a life-response that goes against the grain (well-meaning friends think I am crazy), but it works and that is what counts. There are no guarantees anyway even with surgery, just as we know that there are no guarantees in life and tomorrow the healthiest among us could die in his sleep.

Lifestyle change

Becoming healthy then is not just a matter of taking meds and going to see the right doctor; it involves a total lifestyle change. Girlie was a confirmed meat eater who loved to cook and made killer Mexican dishes, having lived in California for so many decades. When she jumped into her new diet, her system protested loudly, everything went awry.  Now she is the most diligent and conscientious of all detox students. Her laboratory tests attest to her progress; she no longer has surgery on her list of to-dos to heal.

Because I have been vegetarian all the way, my lifestyle change has been to focus on raw food and juicing. It has been quite demanding and temptations abound, but the results inspire me. Everyday is a fresh commitment to juice camote tops, to carry around my detox bottle, to avoid “white” food-white sugar, white flour, white bread, white pasta, all processed food-with unhealthy additives such as preservatives and sugars that wreak havoc on the healing process. Now I am vegan and an aspiring raw foodie!

But the detoxification process applies not just to food, but also our thoughts. Letting go of old mindsets that no longer work as well as expectations and habits that put us down allows us to bring in a fresh outlook which will support our new level of health.

Disease begins with the emotions and the mind. Long before it manifests as a mass or a wound, dis-ease is experienced on an intangible plane-as a negative thought, as self-criticism or unresolved grief. The wounding initially happens in the mind and the soul. This I know from experience.

It greatly helped that I have been meditating for as long as I have been vegetarian.  I and my meditation mentor have developed a special visualization process that focuses on my specific organ of concern to bring in healing light and energy to this part of my body. I believe it has helped me to forgive myself and others and to put a total stop to all those voices from the past.  Basically, the awareness that there was a psycho-emotional source to this growing node in my throat was an eye opener.

The throat is the organ of articulation and expression and although one never stops being a writer, it had been a while since I wrote from the soul as I am doing now with this article.   Fresh energy imbues my being, a block is removed and who cares about some old nodes? I am reaching out, using my words to touch you all. Articulation and expression is my life contract with a Higher Power and I need to do this with all my heart.

|Personal time is an important component to lifestyle change.  On our way to the top of the corporate ladder, we forget to care for ourselves. The Big C is a scream for attention.

Self-affirmation is very important and much love and positive vibes from people around a C patient is just as important as medicine. If you have a C patient in your midst, make sure to keep sending cheer and good, healthy vibrations always.  Detox involves clearing not only our inner selves but our outer environment and our kith and kin’s attitudes.

A vital part of living life to the max means realizing a dream. Presently I am working on refurbishing a farm close to Laguna not only to provide the necessary fruits, vegetables, medicinal herbs and other non-toxic food I need, but also to make sure there is a space for the detox to happen not only for me but for others too.  Set amidst a fruit orchard and running wild with herbs and other plants, it gives a venue where one can absorb the green energies not just through the digestive system but in the air. There are facilities in Puerto Princesa, Palawan too for those who want to enjoy the sites, meditate and cleanse. We are setting up a place with a group of doctors (of different persuasions), healers, meditators and detox chefs.

Meditation strengthens the flow of Life Force or “prana” coming from nature not only for healing humans but also to invigorate the growth of fruits and vegetables. We are now refurbishing the farm and getting it ready for a mid-year opening.

Prana or good energies abound in areas where there are no toxins or fumes or, get a load of this, electrical static in the air.  All our computers and mobile phones feed off our energy and we are unconscious of it.

When we keep our mobile phone close to our bedside and carry our laptop everywhere, we don’t realize how we are being drained by the electrical static.  Check out globalhealingcenter.com and electronics.howstuffworks.com to find out how mobile phones, for instance emit radio frequency, a form of electromagnetic radiation.

According to these websites, these devices can cause skin cancer, irregular behavior patterns in kids, hypersensitivity and high blood pressure and a feeling of melancholy and depression. Try being in a space where there is none of these and feel the difference.

It is then not just a detox of the body but an entire systems overhaul that will open wide doors to healing. Medication and doctors are only a portion of the total effort to take full responsibility over our body healing.  It is us who will have to make the decision, and walk that talk. C is only a wake-up call, an alarm that our being sends out because we have been remiss in our life journey. We heed the call and gradually begin to experience ourselves again in our wholeness, vibrant in the Light. •

Detox 101

International detox chef Elaina Love on how our bodies can avoid a raw deal

How does the body become toxic?

By eating non-nutritious foods
By eating meat and dairy products

By eating too much

Shallow breathing. Oxygen creates energy, while carbon dioxide is acidic.

Stress from daily living

Lack of exercise. We need to sweat, move the lymph and oxygenate our cells.

Not drinking enough pure water

Why do we need a cleansing diet?

Over time our bodies build up toxins. Cleansing is a way to:

Create a more alkaline environment in the body that helps prevent sickness.

Allow more energy to flow through our body.

Remove old debris from our colon so we can absorb more nutrients.

Why should we eat raw foods?

Because they supply us with enzymes, life force, alkalinity and good vibration.

Other benefits:

Raw juices provide nourishment and give the digestive tract a rest. They also provide fiber.

Watermelon or celery/cucumber juice are natural diuretics that flush out the kidneys.

Detoxification cleanses the taste buds.

Foods taste better without oils and sauces when your palate is clean.

How does one start a detox diet?

Consume unlimited fruits and vegetables, and limited seeds, fats and oils.

Choose low- or no-sugar food (including fruits) for one to four weeks if:

a) You have pancreatic problems, such as diabetes

b) Candida or yeast overgrowth

c) Bloating, gas, digestive problems

d) Cancer

e) Sugar addiction

What kind of foods can be eaten on a cleansing diet?

Raw food, juices, smoothies, soups, salads, dressings, desserts and main courses.

Contact info: Dr. Ma. Judea Millora: MJM Wellness Clinic, Tel. 4772961/0920-9523856

Schedules of workshops and lectures:

Dahon Kusina, Pasig with Chef Asha Peri (Tel. 9160391/0917-8611212)

February 25-26: Eye Can Choose, (Mex-Italian)

March 17-18: The Pinoy Diet—A Raw Vision

June: Lighter Side of Raw for kids and adults

July 13 and 15: Raw and Yoga with Donna Tumacder

Pure Joy Raw and Detox workshop with Chef Elaina (www.PureJoyAcademy.com)

October: Raw Food Culinary and Detox Course

Detox and Healing: Agnes Prieto (Call for schedule—0927-6142945)

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TAGS: Agnes Prieto, cancer, Health, Sunday Inquirer Magazine, wellness
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