Why Alternative Cancer Treatment?

"Rabbits don't get lymphoma — kissing my cancer goodbye"

An extract from a book by DIY cancer victor Cathie Grout

Copyright © by HCN 2012, book excerpts reprinted with special permission

This book beautifully illustrates what this website stands for — an allround "holistic" approach to cancer chosen by intuition and "what feels right". An outstanding and highly inspirational "cancer cure" testimonial with much practical advice for cancer "patients", "Rabbits don't get lymphoma. Kissing my cancer goodbye" is written with humour and great perception and likely to make you both laugh and cry — as well as think.

After the initial shock of her cancer diagnosis "out of the blue", Catherine set out on her journey to healing eager to start on the chemotherapy offered her. What seems to literally have saved her life was the fact that her doctors made her wait for several weeks (to determine what they considered the most appropriate chemotherapy).

Synchronicities happened, books and friends "came" to her, and much research and cogitation later, she decided to treat herself with juicing and diet, foot reflexology and detoxification, visualisation and meditation — and to forgo all conventional offerings which only held out the hope of "containing" her disease. Within a year, she finds herself healed — and not only clear of all cancer, but healed in a more encompassing sense...

Very movingly, Catherine analyzes in detail the possible (emotional) reasons why she developed cancer at that specific point in time, and in so doing, inspires the reader challenged by cancer to do the same. And in the course of that self-analysis, a new authentic Catherine is born (the former chrysalis becomes a butterfly), and the former teacher becomes a "healer" herself.

"Rabbits don't get lymphoma. Kissing my cancer goodbye" also is a wonderfully conciliatory and heartening book ín that it shows that there are very human conventional doctors who do not feel threatened by "alternative" approaches but actually support them in their own ways.

As Cathie wrote to me, "It is my dearest wish to provide information and hope to people who have been diagnosed with this condition and to let them know that they have choices when it comes to treatment."

(Beginning of book excerpt)


I Told You I Was Sick!

After tapping my back while fully clothed, my doctor thought I had a kidney infection and decided to put me on a course of antibiotics. I dutifully took them but felt frustrated and blamed myself for not specifically asking him to feel for the lump. I also regretted telling him that I had my period at the time. He probably thought that the swelling I had mentioned was just due to water retention and put my worries down to fluctuating hormones.

At school, I remember apologising to my pupils for the slightly disconnected way I had been teaching all that week. I felt slightly feverish and antibiotics always made me feel drowsy and nauseous. At times I had even spoken ‘back to front’ putting the last half of a word before the first one.

‘I think I am a bit sick’, I told them on the Friday afternoon. It probably came out as ‘a bit thick’ as I was also now slurring my words.

I didn’t know it at the time but this was to be my last day as a teacher. I never got to say goodbye properly to any of my pupils and I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Just as well.

The next day was a Saturday and in full-blown all or nothing Taurean mode, I decided to eat only raw food.

That night, I felt awful. It was as if the whole of my digestive tract was full to bursting point. The feeling of tightness extended to my groin. Anxiety set in and I could not sleep at all. I got up and did something I usually tried to avoid because it scared the hell out of me — I looked for answers in The Reader’s Digest Family Medical Adviser. Whenever I opened that book in search of an explanation for various symptoms, I always came to the conclusion that my days were numbered and that I was suffering from some rare and incurable disease. How ironic then that, when I needed it the most this book had nothing to offer, no label that could be attached to my unease.

Early on Sunday morning, I rang the emergency service at my local hospital and explained my symptoms to the doctor in charge. I expected him to tell me that I had overdone the raw food and that my digestive system was just struggling with all that fibre. However, instead of the reassuring words I had anticipated, this doctor asked me whether I could come to the hospital right away.

Suddenly, I felt a heavy, paralysing blackness descend upon me. For a while, it robbed me of all my strength and my ability to think or speak for myself.

Ian drove me to the hospital where, mercifully, we did not have to wait long. The doctor gave me a thorough examination and found the swelling in my abdomen. He seemed concerned he could not make it move. He called in a colleague who also examined me. Then they both went out of the room and asked Ian to accompany them.

I thought it must be very bad news indeed if they wanted to see Ian separately. The dreaded word — CANCER — came into my mind and kept bouncing off the sides of my otherwise inert brain. I felt I was going to die.

When they returned, they found me on the examining table, rocking myself back and forth, crying, desperate.

Both doctors tried to reassure me but, worryingly, said they wanted to schedule me for an ultrasound test the following day. One of them, when asked what could be the matter with me, said rather awkwardly, I thought, that it could be a multitude of conditions ending in ‘ma’. I remember that he did not look me in the eyes when he spoke and I knew he was being deliberately vague.

I can’t remember much about the rest of that day. I know that I asked Ian what he and the doctors had discussed, whether they said I had cancer.

‘No,’ he replied, ‘but they wanted to know whether there was a history of cancer in your family.’

What I do remember about that day and the days that followed, was looking at the brand new bed we had just bought and thinking with a sense of foreboding that I would not sleep in it for very long.

I took an overnight bag with me to the hospital as I had been told I might be admitted. I was more upset at the thought of having to stay in hospital than at having the tests done. For me, hospitals were the ‘antechamber of death’. Hardly surprising, really, as I had only ever set foot in one of those dreaded places when one of my relatives had been receiving cancer treatment.

My heart was in my mouth when I got there. To make things worse, I was told there was no record of my booking for an ultrasound examination that day due to a lack of communication between departments. I would have to come back tomorrow, they said. This news, delivered without any hint of apology, came after what had seemed like an eternity of waiting in a ward.

I was totally unable to say or do anything for myself. If Ian had not been with me, I would probably have gone home like a docile little girl. But Ian was in no mood to comply. He was magnificent in his outrage! He announced quite loudly and forcefully, that there was no way we were going until we had seen somebody in authority who could sort out this mess.

To cut a long story short, I did eventually see a consultant. After much prodding of my abdomen, he announced that I probably had a kidney malformation. This reminded me that my father had suffered awful problems with one of his kidneys when he was in his 50s. The consultant looked serene and totally satisfied with his diagnosis. He had a group of students with him and had wafted into the ward, God-like, with his ‘disciples’ in tow. I really wanted to believe him, but something I saw in one of the students’ eyes made me feel that, had he been asked for his opinion, his diagnosis would have been quite different.

I was also given the ultrasound scan. The radiologist showed me a ‘cyst’ she had found, next to my descending aorta. I asked whether it was serious but she said she was not qualified to answer such a question. I found the ultrasound an uncomfortable procedure, even painful at times, when she had to press a little harder to get a clearer picture. The radiologist was surprised also.

As I was leaving the department, I heard footsteps running behind me. It was the radiologist. She put her hand on my shoulder and said that she could see how worried I was and that she had managed to get me a CT scan for next Tuesday. She explained that this should give me a clearer understanding of my condition. I was very grateful to her, as I had anticipated a much longer wait.

It didn’t even enter my mind that I had been given such a fast appointment because something was very wrong indeed!

We waited for a decision about my possible stay in hospital. Eventually, after an excruciatingly long wait during which I sat on the edge of a bed, totally paralyzed and only just able to breathe, the consultant I had seen earlier told us there was no reason to admit me. What a relief! Although I was still concerned, the fact that I did not have to stay in the hospital one minute longer made me feel instantly better.

On the way home, my eyes were still filled with the image of that strange little balloon in my abdomen, the ‘cyst’ that had looked so harmless on the bright screen. Somehow, the word ‘cyst’ reassured me. I knew about cysts. I had one removed from my right breast when I was 15 years old. I hoped it would explain everything I had been feeling. I ran a very soothing dialogue with myself, in my head. Of course I had low backache, a cyst that size would cause my left kidney to be squeezed out of its normal position. Of course I felt uncomfortable after that meal, a cyst that size would compress my intestines. I was still a little disconcerted as to what could have caused this cyst to appear and how it would be removed, but seeing the culprit on the screen had been inexplicably reassuring. Nothing sinister there.

My GP rang a couple of days later to tell me that he had the results of my ultrasound scan and he had arranged for me to see a colleague of his as he was not going to be available. I had never met this colleague but instead of reassuring me, as I thought she would, she told me that the hospital must have suspected something serious. She explained that the speed of my referral for a CT scan was most unusual. When I asked what she thought was wrong with me, she said she could not really be sure until after the CT scan. It could be the result of a weird condition caused by a cat scratch, but it was more probably a form of lymphoma.

In all my years living in the UK, I had not come across that word; it sounded quite innocent, delicate, it could almost have been the name of a flower. For a minute, I escaped into a realm of fancy. ‘Would you like some lymphoma in your bouquet, madam?’

‘What exactly is lymphoma,’ I heard myself ask. My voice sounded far, far away, as though it was an echo from another plane. A nanosecond later, her reply and the information it contained not only brought me back to the real world, but also ensured that all my illusions were well and truly shattered.

‘It is a form of cancer of the lymphatic system’ she explained and quickly added that she could call the haematology department at the Vale Hospital. She would make an appointment for me to see a specialist who could tell me more about it.

I must have agreed because she made the phone call. As luck would have it, I could see a haematologist that very afternoon.

‘Is it curable,’ I managed to ask her through my totally parched lips?

‘Some are treatable,’ came the cautious reply.

I wanted to call Ian at work so he could accompany me to the hospital. She took me to another room and left after telling me that somebody would look in shortly. I made my call to a very distraught husband. He had wanted to go to the surgery with me that morning, but I had told him I felt fine. It was only a cyst after all.

A receptionist brought me a glass of water and left. Alone, I drank my water. It was cool but, although my mouth was dry, it had no impact on me. My whole body had turned to ice. My mind seemed frozen. Time stood completely still. After what felt like an eternity, some form of life came back to me and I got up. I walked past the reception desk in what felt like slow motion. The receptionist glanced at me and looked away. I left. I walked home like a zombie and waited for Ian.

That afternoon, we saw a very kind haematologist who told us there were many different types of lymphoma, there were treatments that could help, it was not a type of cancer that usually metastasised, spread to other systems and organs, so it could be contained. He also mentioned the name of my consultant for the first time and assured me that Dr Clarke would be his choice if he had lymphoma.

‘She’s great,’ he enthused.

As he opened the door to his office and said goodbye, I felt compelled to ask, in a vain attempt to sound unperturbed by my possibly imminent departure from this world:

‘So, I am not at death’s door then?’

‘Not by a long shot,’ he answered warmly, looking straight into my eyes.

His reply, although succinct, contained enough hope to keep me from falling into an abyss of despair.

For more on Cathie Grout's "Rabbits Don't Get Lymphoma. Kissing my cancer goodbye", see the book listing under Inspirational first-person accounts in book format.

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