The doctor said that breast cysts didn’t mean that I was more prone to breast cancer, just that it made it harder to detect by examination or mammography. Hence, he suggested that I have a mammogram once a year. In 1980, my gynecologist suggested that I go to a surgeon to have my breasts checked. He checked my breasts every six months. Sometimes he aspirated (removed some fluid) from a big cyst, but never sent it to a lab for analysis.
In 1984 a teacher friend of mine kept talking about her surgeon. She thought he was “the greatest” and suggested I go to him. So I did. He examined my breasts and aspirated a large cyst. He sent the fluid away for analysis. A short time later (April 1984) he called me in to tell me the analysis was that there was suspicion of something and that I needed a biopsy to determine if there was anything with which to be concerned.
I went for pre-operation tests and was told I could leave after the biopsy. I did leave as told. When I went back to the surgeon a week later, he told me that the analysis was carcinoma insitu (cancer in place). This meant cancer was there but not active yet. He told me that he asked for the test to be redone to be sure that it was correct. It was redone, so he was positive of the accuracy of the diagnosis. I almost fell off the table. I thought that if anything was wrong, he would have told me right away. I asked him what needed to be done. He suggested that I go to several oncologists. I asked for and got a recommendation for one.
I made and kept an appointment. I was weighed. (Cancer patients have weight recorded regularly. A weight loss is always a bad sign.) A bone scan was taken to provide a picture for comparison. He said that I probably would be asked for a biopsy every few months so that eventually nothing would be left of my breasts. I could get both breasts cut off, and then I would not have to worry. If cancer was in one breast, they figured the other was cancerous, too.
I was told about different kinds of treatments across the country. Fever Therapy was one. The high fever caused by injection of certain viruses would knock out the cancer cells. No two doctors agreed on the same remedy.
I consulted two other specialists. Surgery was one solution. One doctor suggested he just monitor me carefully every few months. I did not like giving the responsibility of my life to someone else.
I called the National Cancer Society’s Information Center and the Organization of Alternative Therapies. I read many different ideas. The Gerson Center used food for healing, which appealed to me, but it called for two coffee enemas a day and fresh vegetable juice every few hours. I didn’t think I could teach school and follow this therapy. I had always listened to Dr. Carlton Fredricks on the radio. He talked about sugar as being a cause of breast cysts. I had been living on cookies and cake all my life. So in May I stopped eating or drinking anything with sugar. I stopped eating red meat, so I decided to become a vegetarian since most alternative therapies eliminated all meats.
In September, my oldest son had heard about a book called Recalled By Life by Dr. Anthony Satillaro. He told me a little about the book and suggested I read it. He said that he used only food. “What could it hurt?” I read the book and found that this doctor, in his 40s, developed prostate cancer, had all sorts of treatments including an orchiectomy. Nothing worked and he was told he had only a short time to live. He found out about an alternative called “macrobiotics”, which cured him. Because this man was a medical doctor, I believed what he wrote. It made sense to me. He talked about going to Michio Kushi for Oriental diagnosis. So I went to the library and took out The Cancer Prevention Diet by Kushi.
I started eating things the book said were good for breast cancer. The food was all fresh-cooked, but bland because no spices were allowed. I cried a lot and said I couldn’t do it. Don encouraged me to stay with it, although I know he didn’t like the food any more than I did. I gradually started seeing changes in my body. I had more energy, clearer thinking and was happier.
I found the New York Macrobiotic Center and made an appointment with Murray Snyder, a counselor. He used Oriental diagnosis on me. He carefully looked over my eyes, face, hands and arms. A scribe, Elaine Nussbaum, wrote down all observations and carefully wrote pages of directions for foods and drinks to consume. I was given recipes and lists of forbidden foods. I was told about cooking classes and I took many. I learned to cook a new way.
I now ate sea vegetables and soy products. I went back for consultations and enjoyed watching my body heal itself. Don’s health improved too. We both lost lots of weight. Every few months I went to the New York Macrobiotic Center to see a counselor and have my diet adjusted if necessary. Don and I started walking every day.
At age 70 I now enjoy each day living in peace and harmony with nature and everyone I meet. I feel wonderful and have more energy than I did 30 years ago. I am grateful for discovering macrobiotics. I feel having been diagnosed with cancer was a blessing.
I go for checkups to doctors, get blood tests, and all the other scientific nonsense. As far as they can see, I am in good health.
It has been 19 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. These have been the best years of my life. Since then my life has been transformed in my kitchen. Oh, the things I have discovered, not only about my own health, but about life, about the universe. It is as though layers of fog have been lifted from my consciousness. I am very grateful for my life and all the daily pleasures that I can enjoy. But the greatest gift I have received from macrobiotics has been to become responsible for my own life and health.
This story was written a few years ago. Sally Weil is a retired teacher. She and her husband, Don, have attend Jane and Lino Stanchich's Great Life Seminar three times and love it.