Ron Sweeney’s life was full of despair and loss when he discovered that he had cancer. But in the challenges, he saw opportunities and blessings. Ron dedicates this article “from one cancer survivor to another”.
Who is a cancer survivor? Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer and is still alive today is a cancer survivor! Congratulations.
What makes you so special? You have chosen to become a seeker, unwilling to give in. You have chosen to empower yourself by taking control of your life, seeking to learn about self healing.
How do I know? Because you have chosen to read this article.
We are faced with life threatening challenges. But within this adversity, we find opportunity, a blessing, often a chance for major lifestyle changes.
This was my experience. My life was full of despair and loss.
First, my mother was taken after a long, painful battle with breast cancer. Foolishly, I had also begun to distance myself from Gloria, my wife of almost 25 years, ultimately forcing us into a divorce. Finally, my business failed.
My health began to fail. My stomach cramps and pain, which I attributed to stress, became so intense that I found relief only from large doses of maximum strength painkillers, taken several times daily.
My weight began to drop off and it became more difficult to exercise, even for brief periods. I refused to accept the symptoms until one unforgettable morning when my hand touched a very large lump below my rib cage. Frightened, I agreed to a battery of tests which, once completed, brought me to my knees with these words: YOU HAVE CANCER
You know the heart-stopping, terrorizing feeling.
More than three years ago, I lay in a hospital bed recovering from exploratory surgery. The surgeon had found a cantaloupe-size tumour attached to my pancreas. It could not be removed and was squeezing the life out of me.
“Ron could die at any time,” he told my family. With luck, he said, I might live 3 to 6 months.
The very next day, an angel appeared in the hospital room, unwilling to give up on me. Gloria came back to my life, bringing with her the gift of Dr Anthony Sattilaro’s book, Recalled by Life.
Sattilaro had written about his personal battle with prostate cancer. Medical science held no hope for him. He was a desperate man. Lost.
He discovered macrobiotics in a most fortuitous way. After picking up a pair of young hitchhikers (something he would not have normally done) he was introduced to a simple but healing diet of whole grains, vegetables, miso soup, sea vegetables and pickles. The diet, combined with lifestyle changes, saved his life.
Once I completed Sattilaro’s story, there was no question what my healing path would be. I sought out every resource about self-healing and macrobiotics.
Soon, I was cooking miso soup, brown rice and sea vegetables with strange names like hijiki, wakame and kombu. It was all very foreign to me and frankly, very intimidating. But within a short few days, I began to feel a new energy growing within me. I began to believe I would be a survivor.
In the beginning, my goal was to live one year with quality. As I gained strength, my confidence grew, encouraging me to think, why not two years? Maybe five? Yes. That was it. I would go for five years, not sickly and suffering, but with quality.
In April 1992, less than four months after the surgery, I had another cat scan. It showed that the tumour had not grown; it had begun to die.
I would live. Oh God, how wonderful. I would live!
There were no more limits. I no longer thought in terms of living one year or five years. I began to believe that I would lead a long, active and happy life, one filled with quality and peace.
During the next three years, I would faithfully follow a very special and focused macrobiotic program. The diet, which I learned at the Vega Study Centre in California, includes organic whole grains, fresh land and sea vegetables, miso soup, healing tea and very special, delicious macrobiotic pickles.
Equally important, I eliminated all animal and dairy products, as well as sugar and sweeteners. I stopped eating fruit. I learnt that fructose or fruit sugar is particularly dangerous for those of us with cancer.
The Will to Heal
My recommendation for anyone having cancer, is to seriously consider the three major contributing factors: environment, lifestyle, and diet.
I also eliminated stress and anything else which may stand between me and freedom from this dreaded disease.
These are the factors we can control. In fact, we are the only ones who can. We no longer need to be administered to, poisoned with chemicals, radiated, or treated surgically. We do not have to be dependent on anyone.
Macrobiotics can give us the power to heal ourselves. How empowering. This, in itself, can play a major role in our healing.
Food, of course, is very important to our healing. But Herman Aihara, founder of Vega, also discusses the “will” to heal.
It can be difficult to produce this will, especially for a sick person. But when the will is found or cultivated, he says, any sickness can be healed.
Another self-healing technique which proved effective for me was the use of guided imagery. I had read about this in the writings of Dr Bernie Siegal (Love, Medicine and Miracles) and I learnt the art from a wonderful friend, Barbara Simpson.
I would find a quiet, peaceful place. Then I would imagine the cancerous area as being a beautiful, pink, healthy, loving island of life -p; not the dreaded ugly, grey enemy most of us see.
Barbara helped me see each little cell slowly, happily drifting off, the tumour slowly, gently shrinking, each day getting smaller, never in a hurry, just slowly, ever so slowly, but steadily shrinking.
I did this every day, once in the morning and again in the evening before going to sleep. In time, I practised the imagery all my waking hours, thinking of this process going on as I worked, played, rested, cooked a constant slow healing process.
This, combined with the food, gentle exercises, meditation and prayer, found me doing something for my healing literally around the clock. At no time was I waiting for someone to treat me.
Today, I am a very proud and grateful cancer survivor, practicising the macrobiotic lifestyle.
Is this for everyone? It could be but probably is not. Because macrobiotics is “self healing” and no one will, or can, do it for us.
People like me will share their story, teach, encourage and support you. We may even cook for you in the beginning.
But once strength and confidence grow, you can take over. You will take charge of your own life; you become a self healer.
You are not alone. There are many wonderful resources available for you. A macrobiotic counsellor can guide you to get started. If you cannot find a counsellor, contact the Vega Study Centre in Oroville, California, or the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts.
Michio Kushi’s book, The Cancer Prevention Diet, can also be helpful. The Self-Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner is an excellent primer. Kristina’s approach is easy to read.
Finally, use patience in your path to healing. Remember, it has taken us many years to get here. It also takes time to heal.
And be patient with family and friends. What you are choosing is something which most people know very little about.
It will be frightening for them; they will examine you with questions and their eyes. Give them time. As your confidence grows, so will theirs.
You can do this! It will take patience and perseverance. But what better way to heal. It is gentle, it is loving. And it works.
Good luck and God bless you.
Remember these words of Herman Aihara:
“We are living miracles surrounded by miracles.”