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Understanding Cancer
Part I (what is it, how/why does it happen?)
Part II (what special factors predispose us to specific cancers)
Part III (fighting cancer)
Part IV (preventing cancer)

As we start hovering on both sides of the magic 50 we are all being touched by Cancer in some way. Personal experience, family, friends or even a well loved Television Personality.

We in the Alternative Medical Profession strongly suspect that much of Cancer is a 20th Century problem and that most of it is man made.

This view is strongly rejected by the trio of Orthodox Medicine, Medical Politics and the Drug Companies, and with good reason. If modern cancers can be largely (or even partly) attributed to Medical, Political or Industrial miss-management then the populace might get restless. We are therefore pretty much kept in the dark. (“Keep ‘em sick and keep ‘em stupid” ) and besides, if cheap treatments and simple preventative measures were well known, it would be bad for business.

I am not saying that there are not hundreds of caring committed professionals and institutions working themselves to death researching and treating Cancer, there are. I am also not saying that Orthodox Techniques should not play a major part in treating the disease, they should. What I am saying is that we should be much better informed about the causes, prevention and cures available out there and that this valuable information should not be held to the chest of the institutions involved or discounted by the establishment. Oncologists are mostly working in the dark. There is no shame in this, but they should share with us what they do know and they should keep an open mind to what other approaches there are out there.

Cancer is not an ax waiting in the sky to fall on us without warning. We are not selected randomly or because of our genes or even because of our bad habits, to develop Cancer. For the most part, we have to work pretty hard at getting it and we have to ignore obvious signs along the way that we are moving into higher and higher risk groups. In short we are not powerless to prevent or even to treat Cancer ourselves.

The crime and the tragedy is that we are not informed and are not encouraged to believe there is anything we can do for ourselves.

Cancer is really a “Housekeeping Problem.”

We all produce new and replacement cells every day, many millions of them each week. All our bones, all our fluids and all our tissues are made of cells and all of these are regularly checked and replaced as required or according to an average life expectancy or utility of each and every type of cell or tissue. Some of these replacements are defective (maybe more in this age than before). We do have however a marvelous Immune system which is constantly alert and checking all new cells, all old cells, all damaged cells, all foreign cells and constantly digesting and recycling them to keep us well and free from all illness including Cancer.

Cancer develops when the Immune System can’t keep up with the job at hand.

This can be that the Immunity is weakened or that the workload is too high (too many defective, old, damaged or foreign cells to deal with). Usually of course, Cancer is a problem of both the vitality of the Immune System, and of its workload.

Our ancestors evolved in smoky, poorly lit and “unhygienic” caves, ate irregularly of an enormous variety of food both very good and very poor. They lived in a wide variety of temperatures and climates and used their common sense and the plants around them to heal their wounds and illnesses. It is true that infant mortality was probably very high, especially in poor seasons (rather like sheep on the modern farm) but it is also true that those members who survived childhood certainly had very strong Immune systems and probably lived in good health to a reasonable age.

We all carry with us this flexibility to live under a wide variety of conditions and to deal with a wide variety of food substances. Don't think just of the modern Westerner living and eating in his “hygienic” environment think also of Refugees, Prisoners, Arctic Explorers, Castaways and Derelicts.

What is different is what we have done to ourselves and to our environment. The air and the rivers and the oceans of the world are now all polluted. Our food has been irradiated, or is full of chemical colorings and flavors, or is preserved with chemicals and carries traces of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Probably all of the above. Our bodies have been subjected to injection of all sorts of strange chemical or bio-chemical substances. There was lead in our paint and in our petrol, there is mercury in our teeth, there is electromagnetic radiation passing through us every minute of the day and we live lives at a pace and at levels of stress and more isolated from our natural support structures than ever before in the history of mankind.

All these “achievements” can be laid at the feet of our generation and the one of our parents.

It is impossible to imagine that the net effect of what we have done to ourselves and to our planet would have no repercussions.

For Science and Government and Industry to say that Cancer is some sort of defect in our Genes, which they can fix, is asinine.

This all sounds pretty grim and hopeless but it is really not. Remember the wonderfully adaptable machine in which we live. All we have to do is to listen to it and to observe it and to provide a little help here and there and it can manage, even the late 20th Century environment. All we have to do is to supply a little more vitality to our Immune System and to take some of the load off and it can cope really well. It will continue to protect us and to reverse all those bodily processes, which could be leading us towards one sort of Cancer or another.

Part II (what special factors predispose us to specific cancers)

Our immunity can be weakened by both external and internal factors and it can start very early indeed. We are born with a pretty well developed system and we arrive equipped to deal with even a harsh early environment. Consider the babies buried in the Mexican earthquake who survived weeks in the debris, consider how many millions of babies survive without their own mothers milk full of healthy bacterium and antigens. (We do however hear rather disturbing stories about babies (or experimental animals) who whither (and die) without stroking and cuddling!)

The most obvious aspect of our immunity, which is not well developed at birth, is our immunity to respiratory borne infection. After the protection we receive for approximately six months by breast feeding from our own mother it is left to the exposure to our environment to complete the job. (This is a terribly clever aspect of our design in that it allows us to adapt perfectly to our particular local environment) From 6 months until about 7 years of age we learn to deal with our local bugs and conditions. We do battle with the aid of our tonsils, our adenoids, our chests, our sinuses and our inner ears. All these areas are purposely designed to expose us to minimum risk during the maturation of this aspect of our immunity. We were meant to have sore throats congested chests and infected ears early in life, it was part of the plan.

Nature expected us to be cared for and nurtured especially for these first seven years. She provided us with comfort and food through our mothers nurturing instincts and natural support in the form of herbs and other foodstuffs conveniently located close by and varying to best cope with the demands of each season. The instincts of our parents and the accumulated experience of the group, made available all the knowledge needed to help our immunity to mature so that it could protect us for the rest of our lives.

Rosehips Syrup, Nettle Soup, Chamomile Tea, Hot Lemon Drinks, Castor Oil, Cold Sponging, Garlic, Senna, Camphor Bags, Vaporizers, Vicks and Bonningtons Irish Moss are all examples of the sorts of things, which we traditionally used to help our children during these first critical years. At about seven we were ready with a fully developed immunity to go out and make our own way. To expect to throw off a virus or deal with a bacterial infection quickly and efficiently and to survive in an amazing variety of environments to our allotted “three score and ten or thereabouts”

During this century we have systematically subverted all these natural processes by interfering in them at every stage. We depress every temperature, stop every cough, murder every bug (good and bad) and inject a staggering array of substances directly into the blood stream, all of which inflict a grave immune system shock by bypassing our natural channels of exposure.

Again, here we are all pretty grim and hopeless but we do continue to survive, not because of modern medicine but really in spite of it and this is a tribute to this amazing adaptability of the immune system which we have inherited from our forefathers.

Part III (fighting cancer)

From the holistic viewpoint, Cancer is just one of the modern illnesses. Attention Deficit Disorder, Glandular Fever, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Asthma, Irritable Bowel, AIDS, and Allergies; can all be seen as other members of the same family.

Very simply, they all arise from the same problem, the depletion of our immunity however caused. Reversing the processes, which caused them, cures them all.

Cancer and Cancer Treatment has captured the imagination of Big Business, Science, Government and Charlatans alike insofar as it seems to strike us down often in our prime without warning. It is the modern equivalent of the Plagues which used to sweep continental Europe in medieval times.

The medical establishment used in the past, Arsenic, Antimony and Mercury along with sweating, bleeding and purging of various types to treat the Plague and Syphilis which were the scourges of the middle ages. Nowadays we use Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and Surgery as the modern equivalents. As there were fortunes made by Doctors who prescribed mercury to treat Syphilis for 200 years, so today, very big dollars are involved in Cancer treatments.

Radiation, Chemotherapy and Surgery are all expensive, all dangerous and all further compromise our immune systems.

Even in authodox circles it is undisputed that the process of Cancer is triggered by a breakdown of the immune system. It is also undisputed that Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and Surgery all deplete (to put it mildly) that same immune system.

I am not arguing that we shouldn’t use some of these agents but we should be acutely aware at all stages of what we are doing within the context of our whole being and not just the sick bit.

We should spend a great deal of effort deciding when to use these agents; we should be sparing in their use; at every stage of treatment we should be supporting our natural immunity as far as possible and we should be considering the quality of life of our patients. We should have a completely open mind regarding alternative and supportive approaches available outside of the orthodoxy and we should keep our patients informed of the total picture and all of their options and the likely outcomes at all sages of their treatments.

Big Business, Science and Government are very good at doing but not good at caring. They are all interested in dollars more than outcomes and they are all paranoid about protecting their own territory. This has led to our “cancer protocol’s” which are driven by a scientific single-minded approach to the treatment of Cancer. Leaving to the side a myriad of alternative and supportive treatments along with consideration of the well-being and life quality of their patients.

There are signs of improvement during the last few years and with individual Oncologists here and there, but the average patient, immediately after their diagnosis is swept into a protocol over which they have no understanding, input or control. They are afraid, angry, poorly informed and powerless and these emotions are precisely those, which most predispose people to cancer types of illness, in the first place.

Part IV (preventing cancer)

Preventing Cancer is easy. Anything at all we do which enlivens us reduces our chances of falling prey to Cancer.

“Enlivening” is a pretty good description of the factors involved in Cancer. Falling in love, family satisfaction, eating clean foods, looking after our body and our spirit, positive thinking and joy, are all enlivening. (Hanging onto life in our deathbed to wait for a loved one to visit, or to give birth, is also enlivening.) Their opposites include things like eating poor food, not dealing with stress well, being taken advantage of, being powerless, being joyless and not looking after the body and the spirit.

For an explanation so simple it is surprisingly difficult for most people to understand and a great deal harder for them to live.

Modern science seeks simplistic answers in drugs, statistics and in genes and is currently spending its efforts in these directions, but the answer will be as elusive as the cure for the common cold. It is the simplistic approach, which automatically discounts factors not subject to scientific measurement is the problem. From a holistic point of view, this makes the current “scientific” efforts appear extraordinarily stupid.

How can you discount stress from being involved in the process of Stomach Ulcers, currently being blamed on a bacterium? Or from Glandular Fever currently blamed on a virus? How can you discount the effect of being physically run down or a change in seasons from the process of the common cold currently being blamed on a virus? How can you discount the emotion of resentment from the formation of GallStones? Asthma, from fear? Diabetes, from emotional dissatisfaction? Rheumatoid Arthritis, from disappointment? On and on it goes. None of them measurable.

In the same way how can you discount the emotion of hatred from the process of Bowel Cancer, over-caring from the process of Breast and Uterine Cancer or shoveling emotions through the GIT in the process of Stomach and Liver Cancer?

Discounting factors because you have no means of measuring them is the main problem facing scientific understanding of any non-physical processes and we are beginning to find that there are very, very few, wholly physical phenomena. Even in Physics the purest of science, there is the “observer effect” in which the behavior of sub atomic particles is influenced by the intentions (this is worth repeating - The Intentions) of the observer.

OK, so if it so hard to reduce stress or lack of joy or whatever in our lives our lives, what can we do to help ourselves? The answer is that anything at all we do which is enlivening will help. Whatever we chose which suits our own particular state of mind or stage of life will cure and prevent Cancer. It ends up being like one of those Zen statements.

“Everything is a both a cause of, and a cure, for Cancer.” This is almost as difficult as saying “Be happy!”

In practical terms however it needn’t be difficult.

  • Seek a more wholesome diet, maybe even some organically or homegrown food. Enjoy the process of preparing and sharing food.
  • Reduce some of our bad habits for example; never having time to nurture ourselves or others (stroke and be stroked);
  • Don’t over use stimulants like Caffeine in coffee or Cola drinks, replace most of these with herbal teas or fruit and vegetable juices;
  • Don’t continue with stupid or dangerous habits like tobacco, drugs, and alcohol in excess.
  • Nourish your soul with prayer, meditation, contemplation, love, art, craft, compassion, caring, gardening or taking time with nature.
  • Breast-feed and cuddle your babies.
  • Reduce over exposure to all that 20th century stuff like; Electromagnetic Radiation (TV,s Computers, Mobile Phones, Microwave Ovens); Chemicals in your feed, in your medicines and in your environment. This also includes things like anti-perspirents, insect repellents, sunscreens and un-natural fibers next to your skin. Injections like the current round of ‘compulsory’ Measles shots, let alone Intravenous Drugs.

    You get the idea. Use your common sense! This is what you were given it for!

    Back to enlivenment: One of the physical processes central to the process of aging and illness which Science has been able to clarify is the relationship between free radicals and antioxidants.

    Physical enlivenment revolves around the balance between the processes, which break our bodies down, and those, which build us up. Did you notice that Liptons are now advertising the antioxidant properties of Tea? Vitamin C was the first major antioxidant discovered and so began the Orange Juice industry. Now they inject mega-doses of Vitamin C into Chronic Fatigue or Cancer patients! Not so good! Rosehips is just beginning to appear in skin creams and you will shortly begin to hear much about the ‘new’ super anti-oxidants found in Grape Seeds and in the bark of the Maritime Pine, when everyone gets on the bandwagon.

    Although this is another of these “scientific simplifications”, aging, illness and cancer can be seen as the war between free radicals and antioxidants.

    Living - causes the formation of free radicals. Eating, breathing, sleeping, exercise all cause them to be produced in the body.

    Living hard - causes more. Excessive sport, working hours, stress, isolation, exposure to the sun and the weather.

    Living dangerously - causes more still. Cities, agricultural chemicals, living with a mobile phone stuck to your ear, sunscreen stuck to your skin, a cigarette stuck in your mouth, a TV stuck to your face or a needle stuck in your arm. You get the idea.

    Living sensibly provides us with antioxidants, which reduce free radicals. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables (not so much the genetically engineered, irradiated, out of season or artificially ripened variety). Chemical free, home or organically grown stuff in season is best, but we can certainly cope with a fair bit of the other as well. Plenty of whole grains, fiber and all the rest, not too much meat, all play a part of course, but:

    We are not what we eat!” Fanaticism about anything, even about pure food, is bad for our emotional well being and balance.

    We are emotional, feeling and spiritual beings and parental love, respect, rewarding work, hobbies, recreations, time for ourselves, love for ourselves, for others and for our animals, and not too much self sacrificing, are also all supremely important parts of free radical management. (Not a single one of them subject to scientific measurement)

    All of us have within our power things we can change to reduce significantly our personal likelihood of developing Cancer and to improve our chances when fighting it.

    Robert McDowell
    June 2001

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