By Gayle Stolove, R.N., L.M.T.
I use the date of my surgery to commemorate the yearly anniversary of my cancer experience, although the cancer itself started way before then. And please notice, that I use the word “commemorate,” not “celebrate,” because I try to celebrate each and every day, and each and every moment of each and every day, the fact that I am alive, and able to share a small part of my experience with whomever it may benefit, including, and perhaps most importantly, my self, whom I didn’t even know existed before the mind blowing, death defying “cancer experience.”
Second fact: I had discovered the very prominent lump, in the upper and outer portion of my left breast, two years before I actually had it officially diagnosed. I discovered it while taking a shower, and I knew what it was. I knew I had been living wrong, yet I wanted so desperately for it to not be cancer, that I denied, and edged my way around it, for two years, and did not change my lifestyle at all.
Finally, in July of 1996, when I just couldn’t even face myself in a mirror anymore, partly because the skin around the “lump” was beginning to pucker and wrinkle, I went to see a surgeon, hoping that I could just have the “lump” removed, and go on with my life as it was, unchanged by the event.
The surgeon instantly announced that I had “very advanced breast cancer,” and recommended immediate bilateral mastectomy. He did this without even a biopsy, although I did have one eventually to confirm the diagnosis.
I felt that bilateral mastectomy was rather extreme. I hadn’t even considered the possibility actually, because, after all, the lump was almost under my arm it was up so high on my breast. But I did walk out of that Doctor’s office well on my way to becoming a changed person.
There had been two people who had come into my life at varying times years earlier, both of whom had healed themselves from cancer through macrobiotics and I had made a mental note of that, hoping against hope that it would never happen to me, (of course!) But I knew what my path would be, if it ever did.
So, on the day of my cancer diagnosis, I made a commitment to myself, that I would, from that day forward, become macrobiotic. The only problem was, I didn’t even know where to begin, except to eat nothing but brown rice, until I could get more information.
Via one of the above-mentioned people, I was able to get in touch with my beloved macrobiotic counselor, Lino Stanchich, with whom I met as soon as possible (soon, very soon). I was fascinated, confused, overwhelmed, and yet hopeful as I began the most wonderful journey, way beyond anything I could imagine.
I have to back track for a moment…after doing some shopping around, I was able to find a surgeon who agreed to perform a lumpectomy, and auxiliary lymph node dissection, to remove my “lump”. The surgery revealed that the cancer had spread to 12 auxiliary lymph nodes, not a pretty picture, and one that resulted in a grim prognosis, and lots of negative medical reactions, including the threat that if I did not have a stem cell transplant, I would not even live for 6 months, and even with the stem cell transplant, I would only live 6 to 12 months.
Again, it has been 13 years as of this moment! (2008)
With my counselor, Lino Stanchich’s, careful guidance during nine months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation, I began to embrace not only the macrobiotic diet, but also the macrobiotic way of life.
As I changed my diet to whole and natural macrobiotic foods, my whole life changed. My mind became clearer, my body began to heal, and everyone said I looked “great,” a puzzling fact, since I was recovering from cancer and surgery, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, and still able to pull off looking “great.” At the time, I considered the possibility that the chemotherapy (which I very reluctantly had agreed to take only because of the gravity of my prognosis), was somehow improving my skin color, eye clarity, aura, and energy. Looking back, and after dealing with many non- macrobiotic people going through chemotherapy, I obviously know now, that it was the macrobiotics that made me look “great”!
Over these past thirteen macrobiotic years, I have met many very amazing long time macrobiotic people. Many of them are much older than I am (I am, by the way, fifty-three. I was thirty-nine years old when I was officially diagnosed with cancer. That made me about thirty-seven when I first found the lump).
These long time macrobiotic people who came into my life, were for the most part, active, healthy, vital people, and while I feel we are surrounded in this world by a general progression towards degeneration, I found/find, my macrobiotic friends to be moving towards regeneration, unburdened by the numerous ailments that are so common in these times. Without going off on a tangent about that subject, I did make another mental note: Since it took me at least thirty of the first thirty-seven years of my life to become sick, I want to spend the next (at least) thirty years of my life becoming more well, while dancing this great dance of life, macrobiotically healthy and vital. I am by the way, totally cancer free, and on no medication at all, for anything. One may wonder how that is possible. Repeat after me: Macrobiotic Diet and Lifestyle!!
Gayle Stolove is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Natural Foods Chef, as well as a macrobiotic teacher and counselor. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and spends her days (and nights, weekends, and holidays) teaching others how to shop, cook, eat, and live the macrobiotic way.
Gayle owns and operates Wholly Macro, a natural food and lifestyle company, offering macrobiotic-based meal delivery programs, private chef services, cooking classes, natural lifestyle health consultations based on the ancient art of oriental diagnosis, and catering for all occasions. She is a cancer specialist.
Ms. Stolove has lectured at various universities, appeared on the local broadcast of ABC news “HealthWatch,” cooked privately for visiting macrobiotic celebrities, has taught natural foods cooking classes at various cancer research and support centers on a volunteer basis, and presented macrobiotic cooking classes and lectures for a variety of companies, including Whole Foods Market.
This macrobiotic teacher and chef is the South Florida hostess for visiting macrobiotic counselors, assisting in macrobiotic seminars and programs designed to enlighten and inspire others to live healthier macrobiotic lives.