By Tom Fisher, R.N., B.A.
Prior to becoming ill, I lived the Standard American Diet (SAD). This meant consuming copious amounts of meat, dairy and sugar. However, having been a collegiate athlete, I also exercised a great deal. Like many young men, I had a sense of invincibility. I believed that I couldn’t get sick, and that I could eat and do whatever I wanted with no detrimental consequences.
Once I began working in an IT job, that I was not passionate about, I started feeling physically different. I had less energy and occasionally suffered shortness of breath. I went to my doctor for a physical and he said that I was alright, just anemic. He told me that all I needed were some iron pills. However, a few months after that, I experienced extreme night sweats. And, shortly after that, I started to get chest pains that kept me up at night. Thinking I might have been experiencing a cardiac condition, I decided to go to the emergency room.
After a battery of cardiac tests, the doctors said my heart was fine. But, they had seen a mass in the chest x-ray. The doctors recommended more testing and I then did many different scans — CAT, Gallium, PET, all of which detected masses. They then recommended a biopsy, which determined that I had cancer. In September of 1999, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease Stage IV B (Stage IV is the last stage of this cancer; B means with symptoms). I went for a second opinion and they confirmed the first diagnosis.
At the time, I did not know much about diet and lifestyle modification, so I was treated conventionally with chemotherapy. For six months, I worked throughout my treatment. The only dietary and lifestyle modification recommended by my oncologist was not to drink alcohol. The treatment left me with brain fog (chemo brain), overweight, weak, low in energy, sterile, bald, and more susceptible to other cancers. At the end of my treatment, I had to be hospitalized for a week because of a critically low white blood cell count, which left me with high fevers. I also had other electrolyte imbalances.
After the cancer treatment, I discovered some interesting statistics. I had less than a 40% chance of living five more years. Obviously, I wanted to survive beyond this time frame and I was hungry for knowledge and information to keep myself alive. So, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about natural and complementary healthcare. I researched the internet for answers and interviewed registered dietitians, naturopathic doctors, and many others in the complementary health field. I also attended many lectures, workshops, and seminars on complementary healthcare.
After the chemotherapy, it took me over a year to feel normal. During that time, I was starting to change my lifestyle and diet. My mother recommended I attend a weekend workshop that taught people about the raw, living foods lifestyle. Brian Clement, our Director, was the keynote speaker and what he said resonated with me. I began reading his books and confirmed the science behind the lifestyle he discussed. It all made perfect sense to me. So, I started adding living foods to my diet and felt better than ever. Having the support from my wife (then girlfriend), Zainab, and my family and friends during my recovery was crucial to my survival.
As a result of this eye-opening experience, I went back to school to become a registered nurse because I wanted to help others. After my training, I worked in a hospital on a medical/surgical/oncology floor. The healthcare system is based on treating symptoms rather than the cause of disease, so we would see the same people come back — even sicker than before. The education people would get from the hospital was little to none. So, I knew I needed to leave that counterproductive environment. I quit my job to enter the Hippocrates Health Educator Program. It deals extensively with the practice and teachings of the living foods lifestyle and also covers many areas of the complementary healthcare field. The program was great and gave me a new direction in my life.
After completing the Health Educator Program I got a job working at Hippocrates Health Institute. I love my work. Here I get to do guest health consultations and lecture. The living foods lifestyle has kept me in remission for 18 years and I feel better than ever. Without cancer I would never have found my true passion, which is teaching the living foods lifestyle and helping people in an authentic way.
Focusing on the following areas of my life have helped me stay healthy and happy:
- Mind: Try to stay positive and develop positive mental habits.
- Laugh: Find funny movies, jokes, people, and anything that makes you laugh. Studies show this has a positive effect on healing according to Dr. Mark Liponis and Dr. Mark Hyman in their book, Ultra Prevention.
- Meditation: Relax the body and mind. This is a great way to reduce stress.
- Visualization: Imagine positive things. It is also helpful to incorporate deep breathing and calm music. For example, visualize your immune system working to reduce the cancer.
- Support Groups: Get support from family, friends, and loved ones. Support groups have been shown to help people recover from illness according to Bernie Siegel, MD, author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients.
- Affirmations: This is a great way to keep your positive attitude on course. Affirmations can be any statement. Repeating an affirmation in front of a mirror, and saying it with feeling using the present tense, has been shown to have the greatest benefit.
- Diet: Eat a raw vegan, enzyme-rich living food diet. The diet is high in chlorophyll, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Sprouts and vegetables exhibit strong antioxidant and antiproliferative activities and the major part of total antioxidant activity is from the combination of these phytonutrients. The additive and synergistic effects of phyto-nutrients in sprouts and vegetables are responsible for these potent anticancer activities. Broccoli sprouts are a rich source of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that induce phase 2 detoxification enzymes, boost antioxidant status, and protect animals against chemically induced cancer.[i]
- Supplements: Take supplements made only from whole food sources, such as curcumin which inhibits cancer growth through multiple mechanisms, interferes with activation of the estrogen receptor, inhibits nuclear factor kappa beta, inhibits cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways, and promotes apoptosis in cancer cells.
- Water: Pure water is key. Distillers are an affordable way to take out undesirable chemicals.
- Exercise: Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial. Getting more oxygen is important. Work out within your limits, and always consult your doctor before beginning a new routine.
- Skin brush: Always brush toward the heart. Skin brush in the shower or before a shower. This practice helps get the lymphatic system moving.
- Sleep: Eight hours is optimal for most people. The body heals faster when resting.
- Sunshine: Exposure to the sun helps the body produce vitamin D. Only get sun during non-peak daytime hours, before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Vitamin D inhibits cancer growth through multiple mechanisms. It inhibits the release of proteinases from cancer cells, such as matrix metalloproteinase and cathepsin, it inhibits IGF-1 stimulated growth, it also arrests the cancer cell growth cycle. In addition, many cancer cells have vitamin D receptors, which inhibit cell growth when bound to vitamin D.
- Deep breathing and good posture: Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Our bodies need oxygen to heal.
Spiritual (you do not need to be religious to be spiritual):
- Prayer: This practice has been clinically shown to help people recover from illness. Pray for yourself and ask others to pray for you. Ask for help and remember: God’s delays aren’t God’s denials.
- Gratitude: Be grateful for what you have.
- Forgiveness: This is important in the spiritual realm. Forgive yourself and others. This will help focus your energy on healing and getting better. Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, by Caroline Myss, discusses the power of forgiveness.
Tom Fisher, R.N., B.A.
Nurse Supervisor, Hippocrates Health Institute
[i] Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2001 May;10(5):501-8
Shapiro TA, Fahey JW, Wade KL, Stephenson KK, Talalay P.
Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA