Welcome to the most personal thing I’ve ever written.
Yes, I’m an open book when it comes to answering questions, but surely we all have things in our lives we aren’t immediately forthcoming about… things we consider trivial that we don’t wish to trouble others with. But I’ve been faced with a great many questions lately—rhetorical mostly—as has my wonderful, beautiful mother Bonnie, who is currently battling Stage IV diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. (Very aggressive cancer, in layman’s terms.) And being here now, in this unforeseen reality, the questions we began asking weren’t yielding any kind of reasonable answers. So, we backed up, and started asking all new questions.
The Big C
My mom is a saint. Call me biased, but ask any of my friends, her friends, or anyone else who’s had the pleasure of meeting her and they’ll back my words up in a heartbeat. When news came in shortly after her 60th birthday last year that she’d been diagnosed with lymphoma, needless to say it came as a real surprise. But she found an oncologist and followed his prescribed dosings of chemotherapy, drugs, and injections. It was a debilitating process that she would never want to face again, and watching as she lost her strength, her hair, and her (usually unwavering) smile and optimism… it was, to put it lightly, a most unpleasant reminder of our own mortality.
The good news was that her cancer was fairly common, and easy to treat. The doctor claimed that the chemo cocktail he’d cooked up had been shown have as high as an 80% success rate, which we were of course all relieved to hear. Almost as relieved as we were to learn that after going through the entire regimen, her blood tests came back clear. No cancer. Come back in six months for a check-up, but call us if you notice anything peculiar in the interim.
Less than two months after receiving her clean bill of health, a few small, red spots began emerging on the right side of her face and neck. Having suffered from shingles in the past, she’d hoped that it was simply a recurrence of that, but after a few days, she thought it best to call the doctor. Something wasn’t right. A biopsy confirmed what she feared most: the cancer had returned, only in a different form and much more aggressive.
The only course of action, we were told, was to look into high-dose chemotherapy, which would involve several weeks in the hospital and would require that my mom have some of her bone marrow extracted and banked so that it could be reintroduced into her body after the amplified chemo blasts, since these stronger doses would essentially “burn everything out.”
Let’s Do The Numbers
The inevitable questions arose in my mom’s mind: What are my chances of survival this time? How long could I expect to live? Answers varied from doctor to doctor, and gave an incredibly nebulous range: 20 to 60% chance of “long-term survival.” Pressing more, she inquired what “long-term survival” meant. Four to five years, apparently.
No. More. Chemo.
She mulled it over for a bit. She begrudgingly considered going through that torture all over again, despite personal misgivings about it. She’s lost a lot of friends to cancer over the past few years, and she learned two things: It was never quick, and it was never painless. They’d go into remission, and she’d have to watch as her girlfriends withered away slowly, undergoing repeated surgeries and procedures but never really getting better.
My mom fought back tears when she told me she wasn’t going to do it again, but I didn’t blame her one bit. She wanted to try something different… something she’d stumbled upon while browsing through Netflix of all places. It was a treatment program called the Gerson Therapy, and it treats the tumors as a byproduct of disease rather than treating them as the actual disease, correcting diet with organic juices, foods, natural supplements, and a whooooole bunch of coffee enemas.
The Gerson Therapy
A doctor by the name of Max Gerson began seeing great success in his unconventional cancer treatments, administering strict juicing regimens (using upwards of 15 pounds of produce per day), followed by coffee enemas every few hours. The thought process being that cancer cells could grow uncontrollably because we’d let imbalances thrive in our bodies through poor diet and inadequate care for/flushing of the liver, our body’s own detox center.
Through his system, patients consume large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from raw, living foods, which feed the immune system and gradually begin breaking down the tumors so that they might be flushed from our body.
Per the Gerson Institute website: “Degenerative diseases render the body increasingly unable to excrete waste materials adequately, commonly resulting in liver and kidney failure. The Gerson Therapy uses intensive detoxification to eliminate wastes, regenerate the liver, reactivate the immune system and restore the body’s essential defenses—enzyme, mineral and hormone systems. With generous, high-quality nutrition, increased oxygen availability, detoxification, and improved metabolism, the cells—and the body—can regenerate, become healthy and prevent future illness.”
Giving it a Shot… Because We Believe In It
If you’ve gotten to know me, you know that I’ve a great distrust for western medicine and a firm resolve to eat local, fresh, and organic as much as possible. These beliefs have been growing stronger over the past 10 years, but this is going to be my ultimate litmus test. For quite a while, I viewed food simply as a hedonistic pleasure, but as I began to read more, I dropped prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and I started looking at food as more of a fuel, and even as medicine. (Both curative and preventative.) Now, more than ever, I’ll be able to see first-hand if my suspicions have been correct.
The Gerson Therapy is carried out at home for one and a half to two years, but there is a clinic in Mexico where patients can go to learn the ropes and help get them on their way. After sending in my mom’s latest blood tests, results from PET scans, and a long application form, we learned that we got in, and we’ll be heading down to TJ on March 15 for three weeks to begin treatment. “We?” Yes, we. A companion comes along to absorb all the information and learn how to help out, since patients are expected to go through a bit of discomfort as the diseased tissues and toxins begin working their way out of the body. I’ve gladly moved her in to my little place, and will be helping as much with the recovery process as I can.
I’ll be updating my blog with her how she’s doing, my observations, and any changes I see in either of us, as I’ll largely be sticking with the prescribed dietary changes too.
Dolla Dolla Billz Y’all
As one might imagine, this type of treatment costs a pretty penny. Luckily, I’ve put a few pennies aside from my book sales, and both mom and I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some inheritance, so it’s something that we are able to afford. Not without batting an eye, mind you, but we’ve looked at it and thankfully, it’s doable. Beyond the cost of all that produce, there is a super special pricy juicer we had to pick up, and there will be some other equipment costs. Plus, the clinic visit will be costing us $5,500 per week.
Knowing my friends like I do, and likewise how I’d feel if I came across a post such as this on one of their blogs, I’m guessing that “What can I do to help?!” is on some of your minds. Well, you’re awesome for asking. Truth is all we need is your positive thoughts and well wishes. I’m not here to ask for donations on our behalf; as mentioned before, as rough as the prognosis is, we still count our lucky stars that we’re able to finance this experiment with nature and see if it can’t get my mom into better health than she’s ever seen before. (That 20-60% chance of a four to five year life expectancy is for the birds… she’s got a lot more living to do, and we’re convinced this is her ticket to a second act.)
The American Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 2 males and 1 in 3 females will develop cancer in their lifetime. 1 in 4 males and 1 in 5 females will die from it. Radiation and chemotherapy can no longer be the way we look at treating these diseases. Sure there are some success cases, and I couldn’t be happier for anyone who’s managed to dodge this most unfortunate bullet. But the system of western medicine and pharmaceuticals that dominates our thinking has to be reevaluated. Many folks don’t even know that alternative treatments exist, or when they learn of them, they’re dismayed to find that most doctors won’t prescribe them because industry-funded studies discredit them and insurance companies refuse to fund them.
Shut Up and Take My Money
For any of you that already had your wallets out, there is a way you can help. I’ve set up a fundraiser page to… well, raise funds… but not for us. This is for others who are less fortunate. Those who’ve been told to go home, take care of their affairs, and get ready to die. The Gerson Institute has, can, and will continue to help these people when western medicine has failed them. But as mentioned before, not everyone can afford these treatments, and they are not covered by insurance. My goal is to raise $11,000, which will cover one person’s two-week stay at the Gerson clinic in Mexico. (Raising more would also be OK. Just sayin…) Using the site Crowdrise.com, we’re able to harness the power of crowdsourcing funds, all of which will go DIRECTLY to the Gerson Institute—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization—to help a future patient who is unable to afford this care. Check out that widget over on the top right of this page to see how we’re stacking up so far.
Not a single cent ever touches my hands or goes through me; it’s straight from you to Crowdrise to Gerson. I am but a mere conduit for the change I wish to see, but I vow to work to raise these funds however I can, no matter how long it takes. If you or someone you know has been affected by cancer, become a member of the team and help raise funds in their honor. (We’d also be more than glad to exceed our goal with your help!) Many thanks in advance for any amount you’re able and willing to give for some stranger in need. You never know when you might need a few extra karma points!
If you’re unable to give financially but still want to help, simply keep us in your thoughts or leave an encouraging note for my mom here in the comments. Her spirits are good, but I don’t doubt she has some rough days ahead of her, and I’d love for her to be able to pull strength from your uplifting support. Another simple (free) way to help is to share this with your circles, to bring more awareness to alternative therapies and treatments.
If you’d like to learn more on your own, there’s a good amount of information on the Gerson Institute website, or you can watch The Gerson Miracle free on YouTube or through Netflix. (It’s a little bit of a fluff piece, but still very informative. Food Matters is another great documentary worth checking out.) Big thanks in advance for anything you’re able to do. I’ll be sure to update here regularly on her progress and on what we find while practicing the Gerson Therapy. Until then… be well!
If you’d like to support this fundraiser and help others who aren’t able to afford looking into life-saving alternative cancer treatments, a) you’re awesome, and b) you can do so by clicking HERE. It’ll only take a moment of your time, and you’ll earn some damn good karma points in the process. Kudos and sincere thanks be to you.