Surviving Cancer Against All Odds

I recently stumbled upon a great book called Radical Remission by Dr. Kelly Turner. In this book, the author has focused on patients who have survived advanced cancer diagnosis, patients for whom conventional treatment failed or was not an option at all. To be honest, healing stories of these patients are difficult to describe without the word ‘miracle’ and almost impossible to dissect with the current knowledge of science.

I like the author’s concept of researching spontaneous/radical remission cases of cancer. Why wouldn’t we do this more often and at a bigger scale? Why do oncologists ignore radical remission cases and move onto their next cancer patient? I don’t know the answer. But I definitely agree with the author that researching radical remission cases can shed light on some very effective ways to treat cancer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has had their lives touched by cancer. The author has identified nine key factors from her research, which she believes are responsible for radical remission of cancer. In my opinion, these nine techniques can be applied to treat any disease for that matter because the purpose of these techniques is to heal the body, mind and spirit.

The book is very well structured. Each chapter describes a technique that plays a role in radical remission of cancer. The author describes the technique along with the latest research on the subject and a ‘How To’ section at the end of each chapter. The author also makes it very clear that it is a combination of all the techniques that lead to radical remission. The author’s recommendations are as follows:

1) Radically change your diet

This is a very important step in healing your body and I have talked about this incessantly in various posts on my blog. Kelly Turner found many similarities in the ways patients changed their diet after a cancer diagnosis and they were – reducing consumption of refined sugar, meat, dairy, and processed foods, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, eating organic, and drinking filtered water. I talk about the role of meat and dairy in promoting cancer in the following blog posts.

Too much protein? Is that a thing?

Vegan! Really?! Why?

Is it ethical to advertise dairy for cancer prevention?

I can understand that a lot of people might need some guidance with this step since it is not as simple as it sounds. For instance, sugar is not all bad as long as it comes packaged in fiber aka, a fruit. Eat whole foods and whole grains with low glycemic index. If it doesn’t come out of the ground, don’t eat it. Eating healthy is a way of life and the right advice in the early stages of dietary transformation can make the transition smoother. So please find an integrative oncologist or a nutritionist who works with cancer patients in order to get going with this step.

Another important sub-step is detox or cleansing your body. Short fasts are the best way for your body to detoxify by boosting the immune system as shown in various studies[1,2,3]. For instance, try a vegetable smoothie fast. Some people suggest juice fasts but I would avoid it since juice is a processed product devoid of fiber and is very similar to drinking pop. Also eat clean i.e. organic produce in order to reduce your pesticide load.

2) Taking control of your health

This is an important step in healing your mind. According to Kelly’s research, people who made the biggest shift from being passive to taking active control of their health turned into radical remission survivors. This can be hard to understand but basically you need a shift in your consciousness where you switch from being in the passenger seat to the driver’s seat and be willing to make changes in your life. Do not blindly trust your doctor. Ask questions and participate in the decison making process of which treatment would work best for you. Challenge your doctor to think outisde the box. For instance, ask your doctor why they think a certain chemo drug is better for you compared to others? Ask your doctor about the latest research on your type of cancer.

Healing can only come from within you so in my opinion, this shift in consciousness is very important.

3) Following your intuition

The author is now drifting towards spirituality and how it can help the body heal itself. Although this is hard to test in a lab with the current scientific knowledge, I personally believe in spirituality in the sense that we are all spiritual beings connected to each other and the planet. If you asked me how or why, I will fail to explain. Animals definitely possess a strong sense of intuition but humans may be losing this ability as we evolve in safer environments. Have your ever noticed your pets going crazy hours before a storm arrives? I have had moments and experiences in life that I would have to categorize as ‘spiritual experiences’. These experiences usually occur in an altered state of consciousness such as sleep, dreams, meditation or some form of deep trance. If you still don’t understand what I mean by this then try some LSD, a psychedelic drug, and you will experience, in a somewhat haphazard way, what I am talking about here.

The author is suggesting to tap in to our intuition/sixth sense to get an answer as to why you have cancer. Every person needs a unique change in their consciousness in order to heal their cancer. If a certain healing technique, say meditation, worked for X, that doesn’t mean that it will work for Y as well. A change may be required in your body, mind, spirit or all three of the above. There are so many alternative healing modalities available for cancer but how do you know which one will work for you? This is where your intuition may be able to help you find an answer and guide you in the right direction.

No doubt that research in the field of intuition is weak but we all use our sixth sense in our daily lives. The gut feeling of making the right decision is something we have all experienced. Meditation, exercise, or just sitting quietly in nature are some great ways to access your intuition.

4) Using herbs and supplements

This is very straightforward. The purpose of herbs and supplements is to provide the body with the necessary ingredients required to heal itself. The author has described three categories of supplements that most radical remission patients adhere to – digestive enzymes, supplements to detoxify, and supplements to boost immunity.

Digestive enzymes help breakdown your food and help better absorb the nutrients. Prebiotics and Probiotics are also necessary to ensure a healthy microbiome. Many recent studies are starting to recognize the microbiome as an organ system, controlling multiple key functions of the body, especially regulating immunity and inflammation[4,5,6.7]. It is also worth mentioning the importance of a healthy microbiome in preventing colon cancer[8,9,10].

Supplements to detoxify the body include a range of antifungals, antiparasitics, antibacterials, and antivirals. Some worth mentioning are turmeric, olive leaf extract, horsetail plant, wormwood, goldenseal, garlic, oil of oregano, milk thistle, dandelion root, licorice root etc.

5) Releasing suppressed emotions

Our emotions have a very important role to play in determining our physical health. In spiritual terms, suppressed emotions are coined as energy blockages in the body. This is not a foreign concept, for instance it is common for our cheeks to turn red when we are embarrassed or for our heart to start racing when we are scared. I have read about the impact of our thoughts, feelings and emotions on our physical health in multiple books on mind-body medicine such as Healing Back Pain, Molecules of Emotion, Think Away Your Pain etc.

Similarly, suppressed emotions from our past that stick in our subconscious can have a detrimental effect on our physical health. These suppressed emotions need not necessarily be negative emotions. Hanging on to positive emotions is no good either. I am not suggesting to erase all your good memories but make sure they don’t turn into nostalgia.

Stress and fear are the most powerful negative emotions which release an array of chemicals such as cortisol, adrenaline and epinephrine in the body. These chemicals are necessary in the short term, for instance, if you encounter a tiger, these chemicals will help you fight or run away from the tiger. This stress response is essential for survival but if this stress response stays on for a prolonged period of time, it can have some serious side effects on your physical health. Healing mechanisms are put on hold when a ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, along with many other mechanisms such as digestion, excretion etc.

There are volumes written on the subject of mind-body medicine and the impact of emotions on physical health but discussing everything in this one article is impossible. But always remember, if you are feeling fear and uncertainty, you’re not healing. So learn to deal better with stress, anxiety, fear and uncertainty by practicing meditation, journaling, psychotherapy etc. and focus on cultivating love, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude in your heart.

6) Increasing positive emotions

This is typically followed by the release of suppressed emotions. You don’t have to try very hard at this, once you ‘let go’ of the suppressed emotions, the feelings of love, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, unconditional happiness and joy automatically flow through us.

Love is a stronger emotion as compared to stress and fear. So learn to love yourself and others as well as learn to receive love from others.

7) Embracing social support

The feeling of being loved can heal the worst of the worst. So learn to embrace love from others. Hugging, cuddling and other such activities of expressing and receiving love release Oxytocin in the body, a hormone responsible for our well-being[11].

The role of a social support system in increasing longevity and evading disease is also an integral part of the research conducted by the The Blue Zones team and is described in the book, The Blue Zones. I have written a summary of the key details from The Blue Zones in this post Can we create health and happiness in a society? Many studies have shown similar results[12,13,14]. Studies have also shown that loneliness is detrimental to health[15]. Being a part of a social support system and the release of Oxytocin has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation, blood pressure and cortisol levels as well as boost immunity[16,17.18].

8) Deepening your spiritual connection

It is my personal opinion that in order to heal the body, mind, and spirit, this step is the most important and it is also the hardest of all. What is spirituality anyway? Sages and the greatest minds have contemplated this subject for thousands of years.

In my opinion, spirituality is an experience of peace, calm, love, and joy simultaneously. In order to attain this state of bliss, the first and last step is to calm the mind. If you are successful at halting your mind, the spiritual experience follows without any further effort. The feeling of oneness, the feeling of being connected to something higher than yourself is what results.

But this is easier said than done. For some, it might not take very long to calm the mind whereas for others, it might take decades. Everyone has their own way of making this deep connection – yoga, taichi, meditation, running, exercise, prayer or just sitting on a park bench. New age spiritual master, Eckhart Tolle, teaches techniques such as focussing on the present moment, observing without evaluating and observing the self, to calm the mind. If you struggle at calming your mind, I would highly recommend reading his books The Power of Now and A New Earth. Some of my other favorite books on the subject of spirituality are Waking Up and The Untethered Soul.

Research in the field of spirituality suggests that practicing meditation reduces anxiety, improves sleep and increases empathy and memory[19]. Meditation has also shown to increase immunity and promote longevity[20,21]. Research in the field of Epigenetics has shown that meditation can change gene expression i.e. turn healthy genes on and unhealthy genes off[22].

9) Having strong reasons for living

This goes without saying. We all need to wake up every morning with a purpose in life, in order to keep going. Our mind leads the body and not the other way around. So find your calling and cultivate creativity in life. Renew your goals in life and feel the hidden passion you have deep inside of you to attain these goals.

In my opinion, there isn’t just ‘one’ dream job. Passion is a feeling and I can feel passion in regards to many different walks of life. I can be passionate about cooking, writing, reading, soccer, music, travel, my children, my grandchildren etc. simultaneously or at different stages in life. So feel this passion, we all have it, and focus on reasons to live and not so much on only fighting cancer.

I would like to conclude by wishing you the best and to please checkout www.radicalremission.com. The website is a project started by Dr. Kelly Turner and is an online verified database of radical remission survivors.

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