Breast cancer

When my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, I offered up my services to do some reading / cross-referencing for her, and look into the various natural options she had to augment the conventional medicine path she took (mastectomy and chemotherapy).

You can read here about how she managed chemotherapy using ice packs, in order to avoid losing her hair.  She still has a gorgeous head of hair and even though she’s in her sixties, she’s not grey at all.

Since then, I’ve been asked a few times to forward all I know/read about breast cancer to other people who have been diagnosed, so I thought I’d put it on my blog for all of you to access.  I need to say here, that I was following my mum’s path, so this reading is not the same as I would have done if it was for myself.  I’m not a doctor, and I can’t guarantee this will help at all, but I’m still sharing in case it does.

Books to read

These are some books you might like to read if you have been diagnosed with cancer:

Ian Gawler’s books – Ian Gawler turned around his cancer naturally after he was given three weeks left to live.  He now runs retreats and has written several books.
Terry Wahls’ books – Terry Wahls cured herself from MS through a diet she devised based on animal studies. The interesting thing about her book is that it talks about how to eat so that you can get your cells to do the right thing.. and cancer is all about cells doing the wrong thing.
Sandor Elix’s book Wild Fermentation – about eating fermented food.. apparently all cancer patients have incorrect flora in their gut and fermented foods can fix this.


Stress management

In his books, Ian Gawler talks about the importance of stress management, and recommends meditation as a valuable tool.  He says that a high percentage of people with cancer have it primarily because of stress.  He outlines a classic cancer profile which shows a person having a series of stressful events, managing them ineffectively, and then finally THE stress-event which occurs some time before the cancer is diagnosed.  My mum said she recognised herself immediately in that profile.  If you suspect that stress has played a role in development of your cancer, it’s worth getting on top of the situation, looking at how you handle stressors and what you can do differently so that you aren’t carrying the tension within you.  This may be the most important step you can take towards prevening a recurrence.



In Australia, our soil is known to be deficient in minerals, as after the last ice age, when melting run-off deposited minerals over the soils of most of the world, Australia missed out.  In particular, our soils are deficient in magnesium.  This means that we Australians cannot get all our minerals from eating regular food.  Terry Wahls talks about the importance of eating seaweed regularly for trace minerals.

Pat Coleby, a farmer who specialises in animal health through soil health, discovered that when she arrived in Australia after years of farming in England, her animals were sickly.  Once she remineralised the soil, the health of her animals improved dramatically, and she is now sought after by farmers across Australia to help them sort out their soil and livestock health.  It seems sensible to assume that if animals are so affected by the mineral balance in soil, it is likely we humans are too.

In her book, Take Control Of Your Health Elaine Hollingsworth draws a strong connection between the correct intake of minerals, and your body’s ability to detox chemicals.  Given that cancer is known to be strongly related to an overexposure to toxic chemicals, this is relevant to people with cancer.  Hollingsworth gives as an example that areas with high selenium in the soil have much lower rates of cancer generally.

Hollingsworth advises taking magnesium and iodine – taking these two together are supposed to be particularly effective at helping your body to detox chemicals.  Selenium is often deficient in people with cancer, she says.


Detoxing from chemical exposure

Knowing the connection between chemicals exposure and cancer, it may be worth supporting your body to detox as effectively as possible.  A first step is to consider taking minerals, as outlined above.  Terry Wahls advises clay baths (she soaks her feet daily in water with magnetic clay) and says the effect is profound.  The clay is supposed to work like a magnet, drawing out minerals.  I can’t vouch for its effectiveness but I do have a lot of respect for Terry Wahls.

Another way to detoxify is through sweat.  Exercise that makes you sweat, and/or regular sessions in a sauna or steam room can do this.  I do this weekly and I believe I feel better for it.

One of the things I remember reading, though I’ve absolutely no idea where and so can’t vouch for any evidence to back this up: “If you are caring for a cancer patient, do them a favour and wash their dishes by hand for them.”  The implication was that dishwasher chemicals are particularly toxic and that they may leave a slight residue on the plates (I know I’ve seen traces of white stuff on our dishes occasionally)… and that that when you have cancer, this kind of extra chemical load can be too much.  If you have a dishwasher, maybe you want to run your dishes under hot water before eating from them, and think about what other chemical loads you have in day to day life.


Some thoughts about diet

My mum bought Ian Gawler’s recipe book.  Since I’ve done a lot of research into nutrition, I was interested to see how the ideas in his book cross-referenced with my other knowledge on the topic.  I admit I have some reservations about the diet advised by Ian Gawler.  Which is not to say I don’t think he’s a fabulous man doing very important work.  I just think the diet he suggests may not actually be the optimal one to cure cancer.  But we don’t, yet, have a better guide, so anyone diverging from the path he has set out will be taking an experimental road.  If it was me, I would definitely experiment.  Here’s a few of my thoughts in response to his recipe book:

In the 28 day diet, I notice one of the meals includes sauerkraut.  As you’ll know from the Wild Fermentation book, sauerkraut is an amazingly healthy food.  Both scientifically and culturally, it’s understood that the health-giving benefits of sauerkraut come from the fermentation of cabbage.  Through the fermentation process, the cabbage provides more vitamin C and other vitamins, making it particularly nutrient-dense and rich in pro-biotics.  However, in the book, Gawler suggests you make your own sauerkraut by cooking some cabbage with apple cider vinegar.  While this might taste like sauerkraut, it seems a wasted opportunity to eat a truly valuable and nutritious food.

The book suggests that you make your own yeast-risen bread, while my understanding is that from a nutritional point, yeast-risen bread is not good for you at all, and sourdough is essential to properly ferment the anti-nutrients (such as phytates) from the grains.

The book advises against all fat, while my understanding is that more recent research into fats by Dr Mary Enig has shown that while “bad” fats are extremely bad for us, good fats are not only harmless but are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.  The Gawler book seems to blanket all fats as bad, despite mentioning somewhere in there that Omega-3s are important.  Yet the presence of Omega-3s in the diet is not addressed.

The book talks about avoiding fruit in vegetable juices, citing the reason that fruit takes longer to digest and so ferments in the stomach (or something like that).  That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  All fruit contains some lactobacilli, the bacteria responsible for the fermentation of sauerkraut.  Surely if the fruit does “ferment” that would be a good thing rather than a bad thing.  But I think digestive process actually works differently to that.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I do wonder how they measured transit time for fruit versus vegetables and made the distinction that they are best consumed separately.

Frankly the whole diet seems a bit made up to me.  Which is not to say it doesn’t work. But I’m left wondering if it works because it eliminates all processed food, and for people who have cancer in part because of consumption of a lot of refined/processed food, this may be key to their recovery.  Anyway, I’m not totally knocking the Gawler diet approach. Maybe the book is just not well written or doesn’t explain the principles well. Or maybe it works for reasons other than those cited.  But if it was me, I would make some changes to the diet he advises before embarking on it.


More info

I’m afraid this is as far as I went on behalf of my mum and her breast cancer.  If you have more info to share about managing breast cancer specifically or cancer in general, do leave a comment on this post.  May good health be with you…


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