MC: Our next speaker is substituting on very short notice, I might add, and has been very helpful to us in that respect, but I think it will be a most interesting presentation. Mr. Michael Whitehill is a filmmaker from Vermont, but his story is, he is, in fact, a living case history of cancer recovered, and I’m very happy to introduce Mr. Whitehill who will speak to you.
Michael Whitehill: Thank you. When Ruth Sackman asked me if I would fill in for Dr. Rottino I said, “I don’t have many credentials with the eminent people who are here.” I added, “I’d rather not.” But she said, “You’ve kind of got one interesting set of credentials you had cancer and you survived. And there are some people who might be interested in your story.” So, what I think I’ll do is tell you what happened to me; how I found out I had cancer; how it was cured, and how I try to keep it under control. And then, if you have any questions afterwards, I’ll try to answer them as best I can.
In 1971 my partner and I had just finished a television special in Budapest and we came back. We had signed a contract to do a series of films around the world, beginning in Africa, going to South America. They were natural science films. I was playing bridge with my partner and her parents, and I had always been very warm wherever I was. In the middle of a hand I said, “Gee, it’s a4ully cold in here. Could you close the window?” And everybody said, “There’s something wrong with you. You’ve never said, `It’s too cold’ in your life. Better take your temperature.”
They stuck a thermometer in my mouth and said, “My God, you’ve got a fever. Let’s take you to the hospital.” They took me to the hospital and it was diagnosed as pneumonia. So they gave me a shot of penicillin, kept me there for three -days; the fever went away and I was cured. A year passed’ and we were just about ready to get everything together and leave for Africa when I got cold again. Went to the doctor in New York. He said, “You’ve got pneumonia again.” He found it very peculiar that a year had transpired and I got pneumonia in exactly the same place. He said, “There must be something else. I’d like to put you into the hospital and take some tests.” I figured I was likely to be in the jungles or South America for two years and there weren’t going to be too many doctors except witch doctors around; I’d better find out if there was anything serious.
After about a week of tests in which they stuck needles in me, took blood, gave me some pretty bad food, they said, “We cannot tell what’s wrong. The only way we’re going to be able to find out is if we operate and do an exploratory.” That didn’t please me too much. I really didn’t like people cutting me up, but I figured I’d better do it.
I went into the hospital in October and my partner and my brother were in the waiting room. It was supposed to be a two-hour exploratory and six hours later the surgeon came out and told them that I had something called “malignant thymoma”. Now thymoma, malignant thymoma, is a very rare cancer. It’s a cancer of the thymus and what had happened is that it had metastasized and infested the entire pericardium, which is an envelope around your lung.
Now the surgeon did not tell me this. He told my partner it was about the worst infestation he had ever seen in his life to the point where, after they opened me up, he looked at it and debated whether even to bother operating at all; that he did not give me much chance. He said that as long as he had had me opened, he might as well try to get as much out as he could. After about six hours the anesthesiologist said, “I cannot keep him alive any longer. You’ve got to close no matter what.” So the doctor did. And he went out and told my partner and my brother that it was malignant thymoma; that the prognosis was if I responded well to treatment I had about a year. He didn’t tell me this. Of course, my partner said, “Well, I have to tell him.” And the doctor said, “No, I don’t think that that’s so wise. Don’t tell him. It will only depress him. It will prolong the recovery period.”
Now when I awoke, I was told that I had had some cancer. It was all removed and there were no problems. I said, “That’s terrific.” I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital. “When are you going to take the tubes out? I really want to get out of here,” because I wasn’t too happy with the mashed potatoes they were serving me at the time.
I got out of the hospital in about seven days and my partner – I keep referring to her as my partner – she’s now my wife; she was my business partner, is a very determined lady. I have a habit, I did in those days, to put my head in the sand. I didn’t want to hear anything. The word “cancer” unfortunately in the United States and in many parts around the world is synonymous with death. Somebody says, “You’ve got cancer.” Somebody is really saying to you, “You’re dead.” And the publicity that many of the societies put out is negative publicity. And once you’ve got cancer, you don’t want to tell anybody about it, see. You want to walk around and say, “I was ill.” You don’t want to mention cancer, because you know that if you say to somebody who is a loved one or a friend, “I’ve got cancer,” they immediately say to themselves, “You’re dead,” and they’re going to look at you like you’re dead. It’s like pulling a slot machine thing, you know. It’s three skull and crossbones coming up all the time. So most of the people that I met in those days, I would not tell them that I had cancer. I’d say I was sick and that was it. And I didn’t want to hear anything about cancer. If I would open up Time magazine, I would bypass the medical section, just in case there was something about cancer. I didn’t want to be reminded that I had it, and I was about to die.
My partner, who became my wife immediately thereafter, is a different kind of individual. She’s a fighter, see. The doctor said, “He’s got a year if he responds to treatment.” She said, “I don’t believe that.” But she’s not going to tell me, because she knows what I might do, which is flip out and say, “It’s all over.”
Now in those days, 1972, there was nowhere near the kind of publicity that we have now about alternative therapies. You could be operated on. You could get chemotherapy. You could get radiation or you could die. It’s like a Chinese menu: pick any of the above.
Now, nobody believed in those days, or not too many people believed, that nutrition was important. That lack of stress was important. That pollution could harm you. Cancer was mysterious. A virus. Somebody came down, put his hand on your shoulder, and said, “You’ve got cancer.” That’s changed somewhat. But in 1972, to try to find any kind of alternative therapy was a tough job.
My wife went, first of all, to health food stores. And through a series of lucky circumstances, really truly lucky circumstances and perseverance, managed to get hold of Ruth Sackman, who she thought at the time was selling books. Somebody had said, “You ought to go pick up a couple of books from Ruth Sackman.” And so she figured that Ruth Sackman ran a bookstore and she called her on the phone and said, “I’d like to buy these books.” And Ruth Sackman said, “Come on down.” And she did. And she told the story of my cancer; the fact that the prognosis was very dire, and was there anything that could be done? And Ruth of course told her many things that were possible; there were alternative methods to go into and gave her some books to read.
Now again, I have to go back to the kind of mental state that I was in. I did not want to hear anything about cancer. I just wanted to avoid it. I must tell you a couple of other things about me too. At that time I weighed 242 pounds. My idea of breakfast was two jelly doughnuts and a quart of Coca Cola. Now I’m not exaggerating. I tell you that I would buy a quart bottle because that was my passion in life. And lunch was a cheese sandwich and about a pound of potato salad and another quart of Coca Cola, and it sounds funny but it’s true. I’m really not exaggerating. And for supper I would have a pizza and some french fried potatoes, another quart of Coca Cola, a piece of pecan pie, and some coffee with a lot of sugar in it, in case my blood sugar went down. And before I went to bed, I liked ice cream a lot. And I was smoking about three packs of cigarettes a day. No exercise. The job that I was in was a very, very stressful kind of situation and now, as I look back, I remember saying when I found out I had cancer, “Why me?” which is the question everybody who gets cancer goes through the ‘why me?’ stage. You feel like Job, except instead of boils you’ve got cancer. Now I know. In those days I didn’t know, why me?
At any rate, there was no way that Georgia, who is my wife, could confront me and say, “You’re really eating lousy. White bread isn’t good for you.” I didn’t believe that. I figured it built my body 12 ways. It certainly wasn’t going to give me cancer, and that pasta was good. I didn’t know too many Italians who were unhappy and I figured eating all that great food. . . . She knew that confrontation wasn’t going to help, so she had to seduce me. And at that time there was a doctor called Kelley, whom I’m sure you know all about, many of you do, and she said to me, “I’m not feeling very good and there is this dentist in Grapevine, Texas-Grapevine, Texas, if you can believe that-who does things in nutrition and I don’t want to go down to Grapevine, Texas by myself to find out about the program. Would you come with me?” And I said, you know being macho, “Of course, my dear. I’ll be happy to come down with you and hold your hand.” And as we were on the plane down to Grapevine, Texas, she said, “Listen, as long as he’s going to look at me, why not have him look at you at the same time?” And I said, “Well, if it will make you happy, of course.” Little did I know she spent about $800 on the telephone trying to convince him to be nice and say it was an accident that I was coming down.
So we got down to Grapevine, which is not one of your better places in the world. Any of you who’ve been there will verify that. You land somewhere in Texas, which is not so wonderful, and then you take a cab to some tiny little town and nobody knows where Kelley is and after a circuitous route, the cab driver says, “Isn’t he the guy that does something with cancer and is a dentist?” and you sly, “Right. That’s the guy.” And you go into a place and . . . at any rate, Kelley tested me. Gave me a nutritional program.
Now the second step that you have to do is, after you’ve been examined by somebody who does give you a nutritional program, you’ve got to follow it. But you see, I didn’t. You must remember that now, about five months had passed. I still did not know, but my wife knew. She had not had a gray) hair in her head when this happened. She was never fat to begin with, but in that five-month period, her hair had started to go gray and she had lost about 22 pounds, because she knew what I should be doing. She knew I should start to lose weight and take care of myself. I wasn’t doing it and she couldn’t tell me that the prognosis was bad. I was blithely saying, “I had cancer. It’s gone and I’m fine. I’m right back to the old habits.” And in that period of time after coming back from Kelley in which I did have a reasonable program and things to do, I wasn’t following it. Since that time we had moved to Vermont, because another thing that she figured was bright was to get the hell out of New. York City with the pollution, and to get out of the job that I was in, which was very stressful, go on up to Vermont where the air was good, where I wouldn’t be subjected to all that stress.
I came down one night, about 2 o’clock in the morning, and found her sitting on the couch with half a bottle of scotch killed and crying. And that time I said to her, “Why are you crying, what is going on.” At that time she could stand it no longer and she said, “Well, listen, I’ve got to tell you the truth. I’ve got to tell you when the doctor said, ‘He got all the cancer out,’ he didn’t get all the cancer out. And when he said, ‘You have no problems,’ he wasn’t telling you the truth.’ You’ve got big problems, and you’re going to go right down the tube unless you take care of yourself.”
And at that particular point you never saw anybody go on Kelley’s program as quickly in your life. I said, “Where is that sheet he gave me? Where are those food supplements and where is that enema bag?” It didn’t happen quite that quickly. I mean there were three pretty bad days. Anyway, I went on the program that Kelley had put me on. Not very intelligently, because I figured that if he said, “Do it for three days at a time and take two days off,” why not do it for seven days at a time? That would make it much better. And we were doing it without a hell of a lot of knowledge on what to do. It was just me and Georgia, and we were up in Vermont and we had the program and I was scared out of my wits. And I went on it, and I went on it full speed ahead. And after about three weeks of being on it with the purges, with the food supplements, with exercise and everything else, I thought I was going to die. I broke out in boils. There was no part of my body that wasn’t exuding something. And finally Georgia said, “Gee, I don’t know what the hell to do here. I better call Ruth Sackman and say, ‘He’s going to die. I’ve never seen anybody in shape like this.” So she called Ruth and said, “Listen, I’ve got a minor problem here. Mike looks like he’s going to die.” And she explained that I had been on that program without rest for almost a month, at which point Ruth said, “Yeah, you better stop him immediately. It took him 39 years to get in the lousy shape that he was in, and you’re trying to get rid of all that stuff in one month. You can’t do it. His body can’t take it.”
At that time we realized that you have to take your time and I went on the program in a much more sensible, reasonable way. Now all this time I was going back to my doctors in New York who were X-raying me, and they had expected that within about two months after the operation that I would then go on the chemotherapy. But during that time there had been no reappearance of any of the cancer and they kept saying, “O.K.” The first time I ‘went back they said, “Come back in two months.” The second time they said, ‘Well, come back in three months.” The third time they said, “Well, come back in six months.” Well by now a year had passed and they said, “Why don’t you come back in a year?” And I said, “Terrific, I’ll come back in a year.” And that was almost five years ago, and there’s been no recurrence. The medical profession calls it spontaneous remission. I’m perfectly willing to accept that.
Now I can tell you a couple of interesting things that I believe in. Interesting to me and again this is just a personal way of doing it. I think that the mental part is terribly important. I think that if you have cancer, believe you have cancer, if somebody that you know has cancer, if you have a negative feeling about it, you do yourself great damage. Fear is whatever glandular functions that are triggered by your mental processes. They can be positive, and they can be negative. If you’re fearful, if you think you’re going to die of cancer, by God, I think you probably will. If you say you’re going to fight it, that isn’t quite enough. If you say you’re going to fight it intelligently, that’s better. If you say you’re going to fight it intelligently, and you go out and you do it, that’s the best. And if you believe you can whip it, you’ve reached the highest point.
So the first thing, I think, is your mental attitude. You can make yourself sick. You can make yourself better. But not just that alone. It’s tripartite. The next is nutrition. It took me 31/2 years to get down to my svelte, trim figure now and I look in the mirror sometimes and I don’t recognize myself. I walk by and I kinda, you know, preen like a peacock. So nutrition is important. And I never went on a diet. I never said consciously, “I’m going to lose weight.” I just changed my diet to the point where it was about 80% raw foods. I ate a good mix of cereals. No sugar, no ice cream, no pizza, none of the bad things. As many of the good things as I could. As many food supplements as I felt I needed. And it took me 31/2 years. There would be a month where I’d lose two ounces. But I was never hungry, because now instead of eating a half a loaf of bread which was just bulk, and being hungry five minutes later, whatever little amounts of food I would ingest I got all the nutrition I needed out of it. I was finally getting some nutrition instead of bulk. I finally found the answer. And it took me a long time, but now I don’t consciously think about my weight. I never vary-a pound here, a pound there. That’s all and I stay the same.
The third thing after your mental attitude and your nutrition, is exercise. As much as you can get. As much as you’re capable of doing. And I guess the fourth thing, which is really the first thing, is don’t be fearful of cancer. And don’t let anybody convince you that because you have cancer, you’re going to die. I didn’t. I don’t think I am.
Now, if anybody’s got any questions about what I did or wants to know anything else, I’ll be happy to answer them.
Q. Did you pray?
A. Prayer? I don’t like to get into that. I’ll tell you, in an organized way I am a very irreligious person. I believe in an essence. I don’t believe in naming him anything. I suppose, prayer in my own particular way did help, but not, not that I would name an all-powerful deity. I think what I did was I cursed the heavens for a while when I first found out I had it but-yes, I think you can say prayer, in my personal way, did it. But not to anybody in particular. Does that answer your question?
Let me tell you another thing that happened to me. After the cancer was gone, last summer, we had a series of unfortunate tragedies. My wife and I have an organic garden, naturally, because we try to eat only organic food, and the stream overflowed and washed the garden away. Totaled both our cars. We have some stray dogs that we picked up. This is in the space, mind you, of three weeks. We have three dogs and one of them almost died with a liver ailment. My cousin contracted cancer; would not listen to me, and had his lung taken out.
My best friend’s wife got tuberculosis. And then to top it all off, my wife took a ten-quart boiling cauldron of soup off the stove to freeze it, slipped on the floor, turned it over on her lap and got herself third degree burns which, you may be interested to know, she cured, I think, mostly homeopathically. I made her comfrey poultices. She refused to let the surgeons in the hospital-she was there for almost a month-put all that gunk and stuff on; we used wheat germ oil which the nurses would put on. She has no scarring. No skin grafts. And is doing well.
Anyway, instead of being bright about it and saying, “I am under tremendous stress, now I’d better take really good care of myself,” I really went to hell. I started smoking again. I had a couple of beers. I went out and had a pizza. And with all those mental things I contracted something called myasthenia gravis, which is another one of your wonderful diseases. Right? At which point the doctors said to me, “Here is something called prostigman which is a drug, which does not cure myasthenia gravis, but will control it. The only thing you have to do is take a pill every four hours for the rest of your life.” I said no, I really wasn’t’t interested in that. And they said, “My god! You must be.” And I said, “No, not really.”
When my wife was ready, I piled her in the car with the three dogs and we drove to California. I was with double vision; she with burns, and sitting on a rubber doughnut and the three dogs, saying, “What the hell are we doing in this car?” Right? One of the funny things was when we saw the Grand Canyon I saw two Grand Canyons and if you think that isn’t frightening. . . . But we went out t7 California to get organic food and to go to Dr. Jensen’s Hidden Valley Health Ranch, because we’re a great believer in what Dr. Jensen says. And we stayed there for three months . . . It’s a long answer to your question, I’m sorry.
Then we went on a different supplemental program that Dr. Jensen, using Iridology, examined me, and the myastehnia gravis is completely gone. Again, spontaneous remission. But the point of the story is that we’re all capable and susceptible to get any disease known for man if we don’t get our bodies healthy. If you let it go to hell, it’ll attack something weak and get you. So, when I keep saying, I’m cured of cancer,” I can get it back again. I think . . . if I let myself go. So it’s a maintenance program. But life is a maintenance program, from the moment you’re born. “Nobody is going to get out of life alive,” somebody once said, and I agree.
So, supplements. I have gone the whole gamut. When I went to Kelly he put me on things-he put me on enzymes and supplements; the entire B supplements. Enzymes. Protozymes for taking care of the protein. And it was a program tailored completely for my needs. I went back to see him in about 18 months and he took me off many of the supplements, because by then I was much better. My readings were higher, in less quantity and with fewer supplements. Dr. Jensen put me on even fewer supplements, but changed them a little bit so it’s a constantly changing thing. Your body does not stay the same so what supplements I was on (I was on a hell of a lot of them) I can’t even remember. It changes and it’s an individual thing, so what I was on probably would not help you very much. But somebody who knows what he’s talking about, who can examine you and say, “Hey, you’re deficient in this; you’re over abundant in this; let’s get the balance back “I think that is the way to do it.
Q. When you went on the detoxification program, did you experience any symptoms that seemed worse than previous?
A. Yes, a lot. Tremendous boils, which were the poisons coming out. Great feelings of malaise a lot of times. I mean just no energy at all. Again which was all the toxins coming out of my body trying to get better. So, yes, there were times when you literally said, “I wish I was dead.”
Q. Was there any pain?
A. Pain? No. Except from the operation itself. That was the main pain. No. No great pain.
Q. Did you use concentrates? Like what?
A. Yes. It was a complete program. Yes I fasted. I went on the program completely. Fasting. Enemas. Food supplements. Food combining. When you ask me things like that, I must be as specific as I can. These were individual programs with the supplements that were tailored to me. And every reasonable practitioner does that. One of the things that you cannot do is just pick up a book and because it worked for somebody it’s going to work for you. Your body is completely different. Whatever diseases you may or may not have are completely different. So what happened to me, the only value you can get out of that, is that there is a program that can be tailored to every one of you, but it’s not going to be my program, and yours may be completely dissimilar. So what happened to me is not important except that I did go on a program. That’s the important thing.
Q. Does Dr. Kelley ever come to large cities?
A. Specific practitioners I do not recommend. If you want to know things about that, people at FACT will be able to tell you how to get in touch with anybody, and I only mention their names, Kelley and Jensen, to say that those were two people I have been to. Whether they will be good for you or bad for you or good or bad for anybody, I do not know. But somewhere, and FACT will be able to tell you, there are practitioners who can help you.
Q. What kind of exercise did you go on to?
A. I weigh 171 pounds now and I weighed 242 pounds then. I was hefty. And one of the things that they did to me again, particularly, was they had to cut one of my frenetic nerves which controls the diaphragm so that only one half of the diaphragm was working and only one lung was completely working so I was short of breath. So I started by walking. Then jogging. And then I played tennis. I ski. I do any kind of exercise I can. When I went out to California after the myasthenia gravis, I jogged on the beach. Any kind of exercise you can do, that you’re capable of, is terrific. But it’s the sedentary existence that really hurts you.
I thank you.