In October 2017 I was diagnosed with Grade 3 Breast CanSur. It was caught early, had not spread and the prognosis was good. But like everyone who is diagnosed with this dreadful disease, I reeled in shock, wanting the world to go away and for it not to be true.
But it was true.
Strangely enough, the first emotion to envelope me was not fear – that dreadful gnawing came later. No, that first overriding emotion was shame. You see my partner had been diagnosed with Prostrate CanSur two years previously, and had decided not to be treated conventionally, but to treat it using the Budwig Protocol and natural therapies, which included diet, supplements and the Rife Frequencies, things I will discuss in later blogs. He was actually doing very well and his circulating CanSur cells had shown a 30% reduction in a three-month period and it appeared that the tumour was shrinking.
So I should know better, right? I should not be a victim of this disease, knowing what I know, and already eating (well sort of) a diet conducive to health.
But then I looked at myself, and the lifestyle I had lived during the last decade.
I had been under enormous stress since I left my husband and sought a new path at 50. First it was the horrendous divorce and all the grief and fear and discord and self-blame at unravelling a two-decade long marriage as well as safeguarding my two adored children. I was to later meet my wonderful partner online, and in the warm glow of love re-found decided to renovate a huge Georgian house that had been institutionalised for years. The house was to be split into three units, and I planned to start up a self-catering accommodation business in two of them and live in the third. But the renovation budget went badly over, and I ran out of money before the business got going (and was saved by dear and wonderful friends who loaned me a substantial sum to tide me over).
Like a tidal wave, one disaster hit after another – each time before I regained my equilibrium from the previous one. There were two floods - one of raw sewage that ruined a newly laid oak floor, a specialist Georgian ceiling collapsed, water trickled through various ceilings all over the house as grouting in the upstairs bathrooms leaked their flaws, an engineered timber floor lifted because of poor workmanship, and a disgruntled supplier tried to take me to the Small Claims Court, but did not turn up at the hearing because his case was a lie and I could prove it.
After the renovation, we launched our self-catering accommodation business. In the beginning it stalled – entirely due to the aftermath of the Somerset floods but I did not realise that at the time. I could not have chosen a worse time to start a hospitality business, but I thought that I had messed up, that I had misjudged everything, that I was a frivolous and useless spendthrift. My confidence was at an all time low and I did not know what to do.
Exercise and self care went straight out of the window I simply did not have the time or the inclination to do anything. It was simply too much to ask of my body, and more importantly it was too much to ask of my mind. My stress levels had built to the point where I was getting panic attacks in the middle of the night – often several times a night and was not sleeping until 4 in the morning. I could not even clean my teeth without gagging and heaving. Day in, day out. I began to smoke in secret – just a few a day I told myself – to tide me over the divorce and later the renovation stress.
So I moved with my partner into this newly renovated house. It was the next logical step of our relationship with all its attendant hiccups taken on at the same time as starting a new business following a costly renovation with
its grand scale snagging issues - four enormous stress factors in one great dollop. I would often go and sit in the garden to calm down after a panic attack or if I couldn’t sleep. At 2.00 am in the morning, I would sit under the old gnarled cherry tree, mug of tea in hand and light a cigarette. That cherry tree became my silent friend during those long dark nights, someone who did not make demands, someone who simply sat with me when the streets were quiet and the nightjar sang.
But the panic attacks were getting so bad that they could be triggered by movies and television. I would start at any sudden noise to the point that traffic noise became intrusive and almost unbearable. I began to understand that old Victorian idea that unwell patients should be kept as calm as possible. But despite everything, I just could not seem to get my act together and sort myself out. Everything was too much effort.
Deep down on a cellular level I sensed something was awry. It felt like a shadow in my mind and every CanSur infomercial gnawed at me, taunted me, whispered in my ear in the middle of the night. I can honestly say I have never been so low. My partner eventually managed to persuade me to agree to Counselling. It was too little too late.
During the last four years my weight got heavier and heavier. I had always suffered weight issues and would say to anyone who would listen that I did not eat my weight. And that is true. After I left my husband, I started the Lighter Life Programme, lost a lot of weight, which just piled on again immediately after I finished the diet. My self-esteem was lower than low and to boot I weighed more than I had when I started Lighter Life, so I made the decision never to diet again and to eat whatever I wanted. But the side effect of that was my weight continued to gain until I would not even weigh myself and I removed all the full-length mirrors from the house.
The CanSur, although a terrible shock, was not totally unexpected. I sort of knew. At night I would lie sleepless in my bed aware that my body was struggling to function physically, just as I was struggling to function mentally and emotionally. When I was finally diagnosed it was a sort of relief. I say sort of because it was mixed with shame. I had somehow allowed it and I was most certainly responsible for it. I was not a victim of a disease, I was a victim of myself, a victim of my own dis-ease, of my own lack of self-love that had begun as a school-bullied child, followed me into a difficult marriage and finally took over when my economic world began to disintegrate.
But here I am, a new person. I’m in Remission and my circulating CanSur cells (diagnosed by private blood test) have reduced by 15% in the first three months during radiotherapy. They were already way under the marker of 5 cells per 7.5 ml for Breast CanSur, which surprised my doctor, given the Grade 3 diagnosis. But I wasn’t surprised. Since my diagnosis I have taken control of my life. I discovered I had undiagnosed and asymptomatic food allergies, that I have a defective gene that can not synthesise Vitamin D sufficiently (connected with breast CanSur), that I don’t methylate – which means I can’t break down oestrogen properly - a condition that causes fibroids (which I have had since my 30s) and hormonal CanSurs (and mine was oestrogen receptive). I changed my diet completely, followed the Budwig Protocol but also kept my carbohydrate intake to almost zero, stopped all sugar and alcohol and removed all dairy products from my diet with the exception of quark, which is part of the Budwig Protocol.
I had four weeks between diagnosis and the operation to remove the tumour, and as sucrose and carbohydrate break down into glucose and feed CanSur cells, it was a priority to drastically reduce or remove them from my diet. There is a NHS test for CanSur where the patient is fed a glucose solution, which excites CanSur cells to make them more visible in MRI scans, so if anyone tells you that diet is not too important for CanSur, ignore them. It is essential on every single level.
However, I did not want to remove all carbohydrates and go into ketosis as this is stressful to the liver, especially before an operation, and this was especially important for me since my liver was fatty and distended, so I kept my carbohydrate low and limited to two small slices of organic rye bread a day with breakfast. I focused on weekly colonics with a wonderful therapist who pointed me in the direction of other excellent therapists who have all helped and supported me on this extraordinary journey. I undertook my first liver flush just before my radiotherapy and so began the long process of detoxing my liver and gut.
In the 1990s I studied Nutritional Therapy for five years. I gained a Diploma in Nutrition but the final Nutritional Therapist’s exam paper – taken when I was living in Malaysia and about to move to Australia – was lost in the post. By the time I realised this, the college had folded and all that study was lost. I was never to become a Nutritional Therapist. I turned to other things but knowledge is never truly lost and since all of this started, I have drawn upon it and expanded my study.
In the mid 1980s I trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine and taught cookery in Hong Kong during the 90s, developing and teaching my own recipes. I have always adored cooking and entertaining and the nine countries where I have lived during my adult life have heavily influenced my food. I became a Reiki healer in 1991 and continue to work with sound healing with my wonderful partner. And I am a writer with a MA from Bath Spa University. As my daughter pointed out everything in my life has led to this blog.
My weight has now fallen by over three stone and continues to fall, caused by changing my diet, by realising why I was overweight, by making long overdue changes and by truly beginning to love myself. The plethora of natural therapies I have undertaken since October have changed everything in a truly positive way – I will be writing more about these over the coming months. But more importantly, I will be sharing the delicious and simple recipes that I have developed that support an anti-CanSur protocol. The Healing Pantry will showcase recipes such as my delicious ‘Raw Tomato Ketchup’ that replaces unhealthy tomato ketchup heavy with sugar and salt. I will teach you how to build a new pantry and a new culinary repertoire that never makes you feel as if you are missing out, but more importantly introduces you to a new way of cooking that will always support you on your road to health and wellness.
Healing begins with the Self. Please don’t be fooled - no one can heal you except yourself. The medical profession is just one stop on a healing journey that will lead you along many paths, of self-discovery - some unexpected, some daunting and some exciting. Conventional medicine should not be the only path you walk to health and wellness.
In a perverse way CanSur has shaken me out of my panic driven torpor and given purpose and support for these vital new changes. You can’t give up and walk away from a CanSur diagnosis, you have no choice but to continue to walk a path to health. CanSur has rescued me from myself and for that I am profoundly grateful.
SHANNON ELIZABETH x