This article, contributed by Philip Tomlinson recounts how he and his family worked together to help his elderly mother recover metastacised cancer. The story illustrates the importance of making a commitment to health after a cancer diagnosis – and how invaluable family member’s love and practical support are in the recovery process.
How My Mother Recovered from “Terminal” Cancer with Wheatgrass Juice Therapy
by Philip Tomlinson
Our family’s healing journey began with Mum’s words, “My cancer has returned”. Some months earlier, the “successful” removal of a large part of the bowel, had apparently not “caught” all the malignancy. A bout of intense shoulder pain and a diagnosis of metastasised cancer had prompted her doctor’s painful advice, “Wind your affairs up and take a world trip”. This was 1979, so what about 1980?
Decoding the medical advice took no skill. The doctors had said that there was no hope. We were not mentally prepared. What do we do now? Seeking out another doctor was pointless. Consensus medicine was and still is, a controlled system. In those days we knew of no alternative cancer therapists practising in New Zealand. Although I had no clinic or country in mind, I suggested to Mum that one of the family accompany her to “an overseas clinic” but she declined. At age 75 it was physically and emotionally beyond her. Not knowing what else to do, we simply said to Mum, “Come, stay with us”. Ironically, that medical advice that Mum had been given, indirectly, saved her life.
We Had To Do Something
On 30 September 1979, Mum arrived. We then had to do something. It was Mum who opened the way. She had with her a book about a woman who had cured herself of cancer, using a health-food diet and Wheatgrass Juice Therapy. As it happened my wife and I had read the book. It seemed genuine. We had carefully revised our own diet but I doubted whether “dieting” would cure Mum’s serious disorder, with or without Wheatgrass Juice Therapy. We needed to find a comprehensive programme to even sustain hope but Mum had already arrived and we needed to begin it – now.
As we talked about the Wheatgrass Juice Therapy, hope began to emerge. What was there to lose? Nothing. We made Mum’s choice, “our thing”. Hope gradually grew and that awful dread of disease eased. We discounted the death sentence Mum had been given and committed ourselves to gaining encouragement. We achieved this. In fact, we became captains of our own destiny, actively involved as participants in a healing process, that, we later discovered, needed just this personal ownership. We called it a “Wheatgrass Juice Therapy Programme” and hope took anchor.
This was a big step. Groping in the darkness, we badly needed encouragement and as we saw the flickering glow of that elusive light at the end of the tunnel, we realised we had, in fact, begun our journey. We sifted through many anecdotal recoveries from “incurable” cancer, reading out loud to one another the rugged pathways through which winners had struggled, systematically feeding our hope to ensure it took firmer hold and ensure it would flourish in deeper soil than our conscious minds. Mum was strong and courageous. She was no stranger to sorrow and hardship. She had always encouraged us never to give up and now she was proving that she was not a ready quitter. She had already taken the biggest step.
The Two Key Decisions
She had made her key decision – the modalities that she believed would get her well. We had made our key decision – to support her choice. Although a workmate had informed me authoritatively that his doctor had told him that diet had absolutely nothing to do with cancer (the consensus of that day) we began organising Mum’s diet.
Her previous meal patterns fell asunder. We removed tea, coffee, refined table salt, white flour, white bread, sugar, honey, dried foods such as raisins, dates and apricots, food yeast, peanuts, processed foods, junk foods, canned foods, cakes, biscuits, pies, commercial fruit juices and chemically laden farm meat. A large proportion of the diet was raw fruit and vegetables – all grown without chemicals. We included some fish, nuts and grains. We tried to get variety in the meals but the combinations were regimented rigorously, nothing was eaten between meals and specially collected unfluoridated water (with a touch of natural fruit juice) was the only fluid consumed apart from the wheatgrass juice. It was a very new eating pattern.
Dairy produce was totally removed. The English scientist, Professor Jane Plant, who had suffered a string of cancer operations, managed to save herself from further malignancy and is now, as far as I know, cancer free, with essentially this single-pronged attack. At the time we did not have her encouragement, didn’t know whether diary produce caused cancer or merely aggravated it and didn’t know whether wheatgrass juice corrected the cause of cancer or killed the malignant cells. We just knew that we had to do something and removing chemically contaminated dairy produce was ‘something’ we could do.
We Had No Hindsight Then
We didn’t understand that all body minerals needed to be in exactly the right proportions. Calcification was a mystery. We didn’t know that Mum’s swollen arthritic finger reflected a mineral deficiency. At the time I had read about lengthy abstinence from solid food to let the body rest and repair but I had no experience supervising long fasts. Mum also believed in fasting and from what we had read, to combine it with Wheatgrass Juice Therapy was safe and sensible. In spite of our inexperience and ignorance we grew more hopeful as we pushed on.
Nowadays, having spent years investigating alternative cancer treatments, we have a home-built cancer protection mindset and a much stronger and clearer picture of the modalities to tackle in such circumstances but thirty odd years ago the electronic highways were not open as they are today. We had no choice but to simply do the best that we could with the limited information that we had and trust that we were on the right track.
Mum spent her first week on a light diet prior to fasting in the following week. This gave me time. I began organising the wheatgrass juice, quite a task in itself. I brought home the necessary timber and built a raft of large wooden trays, about 800 mm by 500 mm and about 25 mm deep. We lined them with heavy plastic and packed them with the damp seaweed-enriched compost that was in our bins. Each tray was then topped with a layer of wheat pressed firmly onto the dampened soil. Encased in newspaper and out in the spring sunshine the wheat quickly germinated and we soon had thick green shoots to put through the little meat mincer we had recently bought. We decided on half a small glass of green juice each day. The wheatgrass needed a little daily sunlight and just enough water to keep the soil moist. I put the trays on the trailer so that I could wheel them into the sun for a while each day. In every spare moment I read naturopathic books. My sisters began writing what proved to be numerous letters to keep Mum interested in life. In that first week we felt we were ‘under way’.
The first fast lasted a week. Mum had no pain. We saw this as a very good start. We planned each of the four fasts to be one week longer than the previous one. In her first twenty weeks with us Mum was to fast for a total of ten weeks. We knew her last fast would be a dreadfully trying ordeal but we also knew that Mum would last the distance. We somehow felt we would eventually win. The first fast went well.
With four children we found the additional care-giving demanding but in spite of the struggle, for a time hope grew stronger. Whether Mum was fasting or not, at times I would be telephoned at work to say that Mum had “blacked out”. These spells of unconsciousness were worrying. I would slip away from work and sit on the floor where she had fallen until she came around. As the going became worse, we gave Mum enemas to remove the build up of eliminated toxins. The material eliminated must have been strong because after a while the paint on the ceiling above the toilet began to lift!
“I Have Had My Life”
Around the eighteenth week the going was really tough. Mum was exhausted and confined to bed. I could see that her will to live was slipping back. One day she said with a resigned sigh, “Let me go. I have had my life.” I knew that if I dared to agree, she would die. I mustered my last ounce of emotional energy and said, “Can you live for one more day Mum?” Her reply was feeble. She said just, “Yes” and went to sleep. As I went to bed that night I said to my wife, Dorothy, that I had no more nervous energy left to encourage her any more. I added very sadly that we had done all that we could but I so much hoped that if tomorrow she felt just a little better, we would be able to continue. That eighteenth week was a terrible strain.
It was a critical time. The next day Mum said very feebly that she felt a little better and we optimistically agreed that she would try again for a second time, to live one more day. She did. The next day she said she felt a little better again and we repeated the same words and gave her the same smile. I suspected the turn around was in Mum’s mind. She carried on with the long fast, not getting weaker but each day, miraculously, saying that she was feeling a bit better… It was a turning point, far more than a vaguely critical time.
Losing heart was all too easy. From several soundly written textbooks on fasting that I had studied, I knew that breaking the fast would be a hurdle. However, working ever so slowly and so very carefully, Mum broke that final 28-day fast, spending a whole month just getting on to a very light diet again. Although a fragile picture of skin and bone, Mum looked reasonably well and we were greatly encouraged. Not long after Mum’s four week fast we asked a visitor to guess who had been fasting and he failed to guess correctly. This gave us a tremendous lift. It seemed that we were winning. I could see that we had reached another psychological turning point. The wheatgrass juice was an effort to organise so we stopped making it earlier than planned. However we maintained the diet, much of it raw fruits and vegetables. The major battle had been won but the war was not over. I did not lose heart again.
Each day we encouraged Mum on. I sat by the hour playing scrabble with her, pretending I enjoyed it. (Oh dear, I didn’t!) My sisters and Mum’s friends kept letters pouring in and Mum was kept busy answering them. One day I found five letters for Mum in the mailbox. She had a sense of purpose and strove to live life to her full. This was an important component in the whole strategy. We kept on encouraging her.
As the months passed, Mum talked about going home to look after herself! We could see that she was in no state for that. She had barely enough energy to even walk! However, in time she said that she definitely wanted to go home. We talked about maintaining her strict diet for another year and a half as well as arrangements for home help. She was adamant that she could make it on her own fairly soon.
At The Airport
Six months clocked itself up and within two more days we were at the airport. Mum was so weak that she could hardly get up the steps to the plane. Once up, she turned around to wave goodbye. I am sure she was crying. I was too. However, there was one thing I was not doubting. Whatever struggle it would be for her, I knew that she was very slowly getting well. The six months with us had begun a new life for her.
With difficulty Mum managed. She described her great effort to walk with the words, “It was like walking through water”. This was the way she had walked for many months and at 76, she did not know whether she would ever have strength to walk normally but, during the winter, while struggling into town to do her shopping, her strength suddenly returned and she began walking normally again! Her difficulties appeared to be disappearing.
Mum maintained her very strict diet. A year and a half after getting back home she saw her doctor for a check and posted to me a signed “certificate” saying she was free from cancer. Her real certification came with the cancer-free life that she lived after her recovery.
More Than a Cancer Recovery
It was more than a cancer recovery. Her swollen arthritic finger had completely and unexpectedly been restored. Her hair, that was jet white when she arrived in 1979, had gained a touch of the colour that it had in her youth. She looked incredibly well. It was her health that she had won.
The exact reason why Mum recovered, we will never know. There were, no doubt, many contributing factors. At first I thought it could be the diet and the fasting that were critical but over the years we made further deductions. Without in any way discounting the fasting, the enemas, the chemically free food, the food selections and combinations and the love and support, I wondered if it could have been, as much as anything else, the minerals and live green food elements that were drawn up from the seaweed-enriched compost into the wheatgrass, to provide, in the green juice that tasted so much like “liquid earth”, the strangely curative formulation that restored the immune system sufficiently to enable recovery? Thinking it was perhaps her strength of mind, I asked Mum her own opinion as to why she recovered. She said, “It was not things you and Dorothy did that mattered so much but the inspiration you both gave me – to live”.
Mum hardly needed to see a doctor from the time she regained her health. She made it almost a rule, to avoid, like the poisons that they are, the profit-driven chemical methodology of the consensus medicine that in 1979, she abandoned. Mum lived long enough to prove her cure. She had no recurrence of her cancer and died peacefully in her 96th year at the end of year 2000. Today there are many far simpler ways to seek wellness and if Mum was alive and had the same need now, there are, literally, dozens of extremely good options from which she could confidently make several fully compatible choices.
Today the information highways are open. They were not open in 1979. We had no choice in 1979. Today we have the freedom to assess our medical options. In 1979 we were regarded as almost fools. The revised rule for today is more logical. Nobody needs to wonder today what to do. Good advice abounds and there are natural health professionals who can give advice.
Editor’s note: The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine frequently features articles on various aspects of cancer prevention and treatment. There is now an index of issues 1-13 of the Journal that you can access at this link: www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/news/index-of-topics-in-issue-1-13/
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