“Tara has a malignant brain tumour.”
These are not the words we were expecting at age 29, sitting in a doctor’s office with my wife. It’s hard to describe the feeling to someone who hasn’t been in the same situation. The room spins for a second, your heart drops into your bowels, and your first thought after a period of numbness is: “How long do we have until…?”
I can’t even begin to imagine the anguish that overtook Tara at the same point, but needless to say, it wasn’t good.
From there it was rushed trips to the hospital for surgery, scans, tubes, tears, heart monitors and consoling words. The urgency of the situation destroys your ability to sit back and think rationally about the best course of action, after all there is so much emotion involved in a life, especially the one you love the most. You rely on the doctors and their expertise.
After the operation it was straight to the radiologist’s offices. What course of treatment would she receive? It was here for the first time that we actually got a clear picture of what we could and couldn’t do. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy doesn’t necessarily prolong the life expectancy of a cancer patient with an oligoastrocytoma. The fact it was only a grade 2 tumour (4 being the worst), meant we had some time. We had months, if not years, if not decades to live with this thing. We had time to rethink and assess the situation and could research properly. We could defer any kind of invasive, poisonous treatment. Relatively speaking we were incredibly lucky. The doctors actually advised we simply take a “wait and see approach”, take our time. A true blessing.
At this point Tara threw herself into the internet, asked people’s advice, people who had cancer, people who have brain tumours, people who knew people who had cancer. Her mum had heard stories of people who had been cured of cancer. Every kind of snake oil treatment, ‘miracle cure’, anti-cancer book and herbal remedy was discussed. I tried my best to work as an objective and rational filter for these new age options.
My first reaction was let’s follow the doctors’ advice. But at some point, you just can’t listen. Two key things they said that didn’t sit well with any of us:
“There is nothing that can be done currently that will completely cure this disease. At some point it will take your life.”
"You don’t need to change your diet. You can just keep doing what you are now, western food is perfectly balanced.”
To be fair, doctors MUST be clinical. They cannot recommend anything that has not been unequivocally scientifically proven. They are not in the ‘hope’ business. They are in the repair business.
However, to anyone with a chronic ‘incurable’ disease, I would implore you to realise, yes, doctors are integral to your healing, they know more about the human body than most, but they are only one part of the picture. Nutrition, exercise, a positive outlook and general healthy living are just as, if not more important.
You have to eat. You have to eat everyday. You are what you eat. So why not put fuel into your body that will nurture your immune system, your natural defence against disease. Be balanced. Stay away from stress, exercise regularly. Worst case, you’ll feel better. Best case you’ll get better.
But. This blog is not here to preach. This blog is not here to offer a cure for cancer. If you need to know the best way to do this, then click here for some incredible books that can help.
Anti Cancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber
You Can Conquer Cancer by Ian Gawler