Ever since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer I've been meaning to write a blog about my experience. I've hesitated so far because of fear. It's that feeling that keeping quiet about something is safer. If I say I'm feeling great or doing well, this might change just because I've said it. Unvoiced fears are somehow less potent.
So I'll take a deep breath and have a go but please forgive me if I chicken out and bury this draft in the same place as all the others I've started during the last year and a half.
I suppose I'd had the cancer for a couple of years before diagnosis. I'd allowed the pain to increase to the level where I had to admit there was something wrong and needed to have myself looked at. Otherwise, I'd have continued in denial and continued to blame the discomfort on bruising or piles. I'd been needing painkillers in order to sleep for at least a year before I went for a prostate examination. Even then, although my psa level was 6, I demanded a recount before allowing my doctor to refer me to a specialist.
The specialist sent me for an MRI scan and a bone scan. The MRI scan showed I had prostate cancer which had spread locally and into my lymphatic system. He also insisted on performing a brutal biopsy on my extremely sensitive prostate so that he could give me a Gleason score of 4+3. I didn't see the need for this after the scan but my specialist said that he couldn't treat me if I refused to have the procedure carried out. With hindsight, I should have told him where to shove his instrument. I was peeing blood for a week just so he could write some numbers down on his form. But, hey ho, hindsight isn't granted us until well after the event.
When my specialist announced the scan results he called them 'disappointing'. He said I had a particularly aggressive cancer and that it had already spread. This meant that removing my prostate would not get rid of the cancer. I think this was the disappointing bit for him because this was essentially what he did for a living. I asked him what I could do to reduce the spread of the cancer, whether there was anything special I should eat or avoid eating. He screwed up his face in deep thought and announced that he'd heard that cooked tomatoes were good. I was put on three monthly hormone injections.
This was the beginning of my cancer experience. Once I'd absorbed the news and spent some days in fearful panic, I decided to ask for some help away from the mainstream medical system. The stuff I read on the cancer charity and NHS websites was very depressing and warned against doing anything other than things instructed by your doctor. Changing diet was bad, for example, because this could interfere with medication.
I consulted an Ayurvedic doctor. He was absolutely brilliant and provided me with a huge boost to my morale and infused me with hope. He advised me to meditate twice a day, take some supplements and gave me a reading list. Things started to look up.
I started to work with a naturopath who advised me about my diet. I cut out dairy, meat, gluten, fruit, sugar, alcohol, caffeine. I ate a larger proportion of green vegetables together with seeds and nuts supplemented with oily fish.
After six months on this regime, I had another scan. My cancer had retreated and was no longer in my lymphatic system or neighbouring organs. This, of course, was good news. My specialist put this down to the effect of the hormone treatment.
Now, a year later, I'm feeling better than I've done for years. The diet has become a natural part of my life and I genuinely don't feel deprived. I can actually eat or drink anything I want. I just choose to do what I'm doing in order to give my body the best chance I can to heal.
Everyone is different. I've been fortunate that I've had wonderful support and what I'm doing seems to be working. Not everyone can be a lucky as I am. There is, however, a purpose to everything I do. It's to put as little strain on my immune system as possible so that it can start to heal my cancer. If I distract it by making it have to clean up toxins I introduce through bad food or other forms of stress, it won't get the same opportunity. That's it really. There are no absolutes involved only gentleness and kindness to myself.
I don't believe that my cancer can be cured by medicine or radiotherapy or surgery because it's something that my own body has created in response to stress. Only by relieving this stress can I hope to reverse the process. That's why I only eat organic food, drink only reverse-osmosis filtered water and try to keep my mind and body as relaxed as possible.
So far, so good. But wasn't that what the man who jumped off the Empire State building thought as he fell past the twenty fifth floor?