Stress! As cancer patients, we hear the word constantly. The researchers tell us that stress has a focal role in the process of diminishing the immune system’s capacity to destroy malignant cells before the disease becomes clinically apparent. After the disease is clinically diagnosed, we are told that we must eliminate stress in order to allow the body to make a biological repair. How paradoxical and how impossible. The words, “I’m sorry, it’s malignant” tap for all of us who have heard them the deepest levels of disbelief, terror and helplessness. We’ve all known someone who “seemed healthy as a horse one day and was dead the next” or someone who “died a slow and terrible death” from cancer. We want neither option. We want to live out all our years in optimum health. And so the stress really begins. If we are feeling well (sometimes better than we have in years because of our improved nutrition and detoxification), we hear the sometimes quiet, sometimes nagging voice wondering “Is IT silently growing?”. If we are feeling badly, the voice can torture us with “Is this toxicity, a healing crisis ‘or is IT not so silently growing?” What do we do in order to achieve what seems impossible – eliminate stress?
I have struggled with, and am still struggling with this problem since I had a confirmed biopsy of stage 3 breast cancer a year and a half ago. I am not claiming that I am cured of cancer. At this stage I can only claim that I am at the beginning of a long process which I know will go on for years; that if I am faithful in following all the facets of my program, I may have a chance of someday being cured not in remission, not stable but totally free of the disease.
At this moment, I am coming out of a period of toxicity. If you had spoken to me 2 weeks ago, I would have called it metastasis. I feel that this experience has got to parallel the experience of every one of us who is trying to affect a biological repair. And so I would like to share the periods of stress and the periods of triumph, in order for those of us on this road to become more knowledgeable and therefore feel a little less alone with the symptoms of healing. Most important, I hope it might make us all experience much less stress.
I have kept a diary this past year and a half. I hope to be able to write in coming issues of Cancer Forum about all the symptoms of healing I’ve experienced. I have been amazed at how many there have been; how strange and unexpected some are; how some have amazed and amused me; how some have terrified me; how some have become old friends. At this point, let me recount the most recent.
After a period of heavy toxicity this summer (which I will talk about in a future article), I experienced 4 weeks of feeling like I was in shining health. I looked 15 years younger, my color was glowing, my energy level was what it had been at 20. I am 50. I made numerous future plans for my life. I flaunted my glowing self in front of friends and relatives who had warned me I was “committing suicide by going the alternate route.”
Then it happened. Just as I was convinced that I had “licked it,” I was laid low. One Sunday, I felt tired, bone tired after walking just 3 blocks. The bones of my feet and ankles ached. The following day, after sleeping for 10 hours, resting and detoxifying, I felt worse. My color had become yellowy gray. I had developed black circles under my eyes. My face was gaunt. None of this really frightened me because these were what I considered “old friend symptoms.” They had come and gone before. A week later, a small pain in my left knee began to intensify and the hip joint of the same leg hurt when I swiveled it. These were “stranger symptoms” I had never had them before. And so the nagging voice of anxiety had a clear field in which to shout, “Metastasis! Breast cancer goes to the bones. This is it.” Several days later, I developed a small, dry cough which went on day after day… “clearly” lung metastasis. The unceasing circle of worry began… “How can I tell… only x-rays will tell… I don’t want x-rays… How can I tell?” Anxiety and then stress, stress and then anxiety.
During this period, I intensified my detoxification routines more colonies, more saunas, more juices, the chiropractor, the osteopath. The joint pain increased and the glands under my arm and in the jaw area swelled and were painful. Eight days later my cough began to break. For the next week I coughed up mucous. I had several bright red nose bleeds, one rather severe. Nose bleeds are ‘old friends’ by now. “Alright,” I thought, “Maybe I don’t have lung cancer; maybe the cough was a symptom of getting rid of old toxins in the lung and head area. But what about the joint pain?” I felt a purge and fast were in order The day after the 4 day purge and fast, the back of my painful knee broke out in large bumps which oozed for 2 days. When they healed the knee pain was minimal. The glands had shrunk markedly. The hip pain remained for awhile and then ceased. Some questions I have . asked myself are, “Was the knee pain associated with an old automobile injury? Was the cough associated with osteopathic cranials which might have loosened old mucous?”
Where am I now? I am in a much better place emotionally because my “stranger symptoms” are in the process of becoming “old friends”. My color is better. No black circles under the eyes and an increased energy level. I’m calling this a healing crisis. Of course this is hindsight. But I dm convinced that if we have enough of these experiences behind us and the physiological knowledge to try to figure out what is happening, our stress level can be diminished so that we will not worry ourselves to death before we heal.
In the next article I will describe my first healing crises when all symptoms were still strangers and enemies.