“Is your mom still on that weird diet, that potato one?” my son’s friend asked. We laughed together as he told the story. I reminded him, as I remind everyone who asks “are you still doing THAT?” that I have concluded I really like feeling good. That day when I made the decision to make a serious diet change, having discovered malignant cells invading my body, is a day I can only view as a gift of God.
We all have friends who have lived exemplary healthy lives and yet still found their bodies invaded by cancer, wondering, “how in the world did this bad guy get in there?” With 9 days confined to a hospital room, I had adequate time to read and make decisions about changes I would need to make simply to see my beloved young grandchildren grow to adulthood. Remembering the name Gerson from some Netflix documentaries and my holistically minded friends, I downloaded Max Gerson’s biography on my kindle the morning after the cecostomy and began learning of this brilliant German medical doctor’s adventure into the world of food as medicine. Plagued by migraine headaches as a youth, he discovered during his years away from home in medical school that diet affected his headaches. Through personal experience, he could help people cure their migraines with an arguably rigid plant-based diet. In the early 20th century tuberculosis was an epidemic that kept its victims confined to sanitariums. When he happened to treat one TB ridden woman for migraines and her tuberculosis was also cured, he knew he was on to something. The roller coaster journey discovering a plant-based cure for many cancers took multiple unexpected and scary dips, from the holocaust chasing him from his home to becoming a serious threat to American oncologists.
But in between the dips were the seemingly miraculous and countless climbs of cancer healings. I left the hospital without any doubt this was the path for me to follow. For someone addicted to salt, an ice cream nightcap, daytime snacks and meals filled with varieties of obvious proteins, and who had decided early on that any possible spouse I might consider must love coffee as much as me, the sacrifices would be significant. Dr. Gerson called patients to make a two-year commitment to his program regardless how healthy they might think they had become. That seemed an eternity, but 18 months later, I have determined I will never stray far from this plan. Why? I feel too good to risk giving up that wonderful completely good feeling of eating. Feeling not only good in the taste buds, but good in the stomach, and no feelings whatsoever in the digestive tract! It is my hope to share here with hindsight how this “weird diet” has not only changed my life but has many components that could make anyone else’s life not just healthier, but more comfortable, 365 days a year. What a blessing to live always feeling good! Could it get any better? What do you think?
Hippocrates may have been the first western physician to suggest that sickness came from natural and physical causes, not superstition or superntural curses. A brilliant third generation phsician pacticing medicine in ancient Greece (400 BC), he learned at the feet of both his father and grandfather. Most ancient cultures, other than Old Testament Jews, associated illness with superstition and supernatural curses (though Jews as well were impacted by neighbors in other beliefs). Reading the laws of the early Torah, however, demonstrates ancient Jews understood contagiouis disease could be passed around or controlled with hygiene and rest (1/3 of their over 600 rules were related to this). But Hippocrates, practicing medicine during the Golden Age of Athens, may have been the first non-Jewish physician to suggest that health could be affected by natural choices. Many physicians today still ascribe to the oath he penned and consider him the Father of Modern Medicine.
Coming out of surgery, after a day or two of IV sustenance only, brings back the freedom to taste and begin to enjoy food again. Another surprise though, when I discovered the hospital diet choices. In 1931 Dr. Otto Warburg received a Nobel Laureate prize for his discovery that malignant tumors show increased glycolysis, using glucose (sugar) as fuel, measurably more than normal cells. Looking at menu choices on my all liquid diet and knowing I had cancer, I wondered how I could get well on jello, popsicles, boxed apple and cranberry juices (1 gram sugar for every 3–4 calories) and sodium filled bouillion.
To my delight, I was told there was a refrigerator on the floor not only reserved for patient use but totally empty! Friends and family brought foods at my request … I couldn’t get too far from sugar content in juce but at least I could make it organic, and real chicken broth could be made sodium free. When the doctor suggested it was time to start drinking clear protein for wound healing, I was thankful my son Matt had discovered a clear protein drink at a local grocery store that was free of both sugar and aspartame, sweetened only with stevia. The nurses happily and graciously served me each meal from the local frig. I experienced gratitude in new ways. Grateful for loving people to bring me foods of my choice. Grateful for refrigerators and for nurses to serve from them daily with care and joy. And grateful to confidently walk a healing path.
It wasn’t that I was worried about my life that first day in the hospital … but I was confused, wondering what I had done wrong to get to this place. And wearing a belly bag? An overwhelming thought.
People came and went throughout the day, giving, loving and praying. I moped. Hadn’t I followed a raw diet at least most of the time? Hadn’t I kept my body in minimally above average good condition, through alkaline water and walking? Didn’t I normally refuse sugar drinks, processed foods, refined flours, donuts, red meat almost all times when the choice was in my hands? Hadn’t I used for decades the best supplements on the planet? Hadn’t I diligently sought God for two weeks before today for healing? What happened? Going thru the motions of thanking people for their visits and prayers, I was anything but communicative.
And then it was that God showed up. Not to heal me instantly. Not to let me wake up and find this was all a bad dream. But there in the midst of life. At home preparing for her vacation the next day, the surgeon called at 8pm. “I have an idea,” she said. “We could do a cecostomy, drain your colon naturally, and hopefully avoid the need for a colostomy when we remove the tumor in a few days.” later.” In my enthusiastic agreement I sensed the beginning of God intervening on my behalf. Barely a minute later, just moments before Transport came to take me to OR, Carol arrived, telling me God prompted her to come, and what should she read? Psalm 103 was a favorite psalm since my youth, much of it memorized, but I had never heard healing in this psalm because I had never been sick. As she read, peace settled over my heart in a way I could never have imagined were it not for those doubts leading up to that moment. Waiting patiently at the door while we prayed together, the young Filipino employee recognized us as Christ followers. Upon entering the elevator he burst into song, leading us with hymns we all loved and now I knew I was in the presence of angels. Arriving at the OR entrance was dear brother and surgeon friend Lynn, also waiting to read hope and healing to me from Psalm 121.
That pathway – what a sanctuary for the presence of God, powerful and personal! Being wheeled thru the OR doorway, I wondered why the medical people needed to tell me what would happen. Never in my life had I felt so deeply held up by the hands of God Himself. It didn’t matter what man might do; He was sovereign and in control. Not just from the beginning of time over all creation, but this moment, June 16, carrying me personally and lovingly into this sterile room of monitors, white coats and scrubs. He alone knew my future … tonight, and the days to follow. When has God shown up for you at the most unexpected times?
“Here I was, a 38 year old man, father of 5, happy husband, staying fit … and they told me I had stage 3 colorectal cancer. WHAT? How does that happen?”
Helen Bairstow (Happy Gerson) said “You know those moments in time that change your life? I had a MAJOR one in November 2010 when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer (yep that’s the terminal one!). … after a life long interest in health and healing, always questioning, researching and testing new ways…”
Lynn Ford (God and Gerson Therapy) testified the conversation with her urologist after 3 months of advanced major treatment for her bladder cancer, instead of healing, had resulted in significant spreading of the disease, was the scariest conversation she ever had in her life.
Never having so much as spent a night in a hospital (except tonsillitis at age 5), while prepping myself that day in June for the reality I was going to be confined to this high tech bed for a period of undetermined length, I could only shake my head, wondering whatever had I done wrong to land me in this place. With the surgeon unable to get the tv in my room to show me the results of the CT scan, I could only imagine her conversations taking place in the nursing station where she discussed with Bob (my husband) and John (colleague and prayer warrior) why an emergency colostomy was the answer to remove the malignancies that were filling my colon..
I will always remember the expression on Bill’s face, as he shared with me his story of ongoing physical challenges with which he had lived for 15 years. At that time under multiple forms of tests to determine the cause of the current symptoms that were sapping his energy and keeping him awake at night, he said nervously, “I just wonder if they’re going to give me the big C word.” For it seemed that was the only thing possibly left that had not been discussed. Attempting to prepare his mind emotionally so he would not have to be surprised, the quizzical expression in his eyes belied his biggest worry.
What follows is the story of one person’s journey through those surprises and shocks, the answers and the questions, the challenges and the victories, reflections and prayers. I hope we can journey together. I would love to hear from you those surprises that have been most impactful on your life. And share joy together in those serendipity moments of insight and resolution. What has been a moment of completely unexpected surprise for you?