The total eclipse of the Sun must have been a huge shock to early man. Explaining it in terms of what he knew, it was an awesome sign from the Heavens, an admonishment, a warning that unseen powers could remove in an instant everything he took for granted.
No matter how blasé people become about their mechanistic Universe, we remain fascinated by the solar eclipse; for some it is an odd coincidence of distances and diameters, for others it is still a sign from the Heavens, for others, an annoyance because these invoices must be out by 5:30. Paradoxically the solar eclipse lights up what is already within is, and the wonder remains because truth really is not a destination but a journey – in every field, the journey unfolds more truth as time goes on, and what is true for one generation is a cause of hilarity for the next. A sure sign of ignorance is the certainty of any truth as absolute, because for an endless road of discovery, the trait most in demand is the will to move on.
Events in life that seem beyond our power to alter have exactly the same effect today, and no better example is the storm in our depths when we are hit by cancer. No word is more dreaded, in the baffling lexicon of the dispassionate doctor: for some it represents a curse from the Heavens, a retribution of sorts. A long standing aquaintance in Greece was appalled to find one of her best friends had been quietly removed from circulation and laid to rest by her mother without a word to anyone. Much later she found her friend had succumbed to cancer, which to her mother had seemed such a disgrace that she ensured her child suffered and died in secrecy.
No matter how we may look down on such superstition, explaining the process doesn’t remove the impact. I’m reminded of Kurosawa’s film about postwar Japan, ‘I Live in Fear’, in which Toshiro Mifune, an elderly Japanese businessman, is so terrified of another nuclear attack that he moves his reluctant family to South America. Mifune understands there is no rationale behind the actions of political maniacs willing to roast whole cities alive from a safe distance, and he realises there is nothing an ordinary citizen could do to prevent such an atrocity; to survive his understandable fear of the unknown, he takes whatever extraordinary steps are open to him.
From a distance, this film will seem indeed seem like “a searing indictment” of our own society; many live in fear of a nucelar holocaust, while others think wishfully of it, hoping it might at least erase the horrors of war once and for all, and knock sense into those who now stockpile their weapons. There is a similar sense of panic in the minds of those who have cancer and those who do not. Those who are healthy try discreetly to avoid those who are struck down, as they stare unseeing past the homeless on the street, because they are a living reminder of possibilities awaiting anyone. Those who suffer will take any means at their disposal to forestall the process or eliminate it altogether, agreeing wholeheartedly to medical procedures so awful that their own bodies, for a time, are burnt from the inside.
Japanese women traditionally have low rates of breast cancer, but on moving to America, contract it at the standard Western rate. Thus a genetic cause is easily disproved, but the fear of cancer is great enough to overwhelm logic, and so presumably sane people have healthy organs surgically removed in case they may develop cancer in the future. The company which makes money from the tests, of course, endorses this self-mutilation whole heartedly.
To us, cancer’s causes remain hidden; like the lazy grashopper, having delegated the gathering of knowledge to others while we amuse ourselves throughout the seasons, we then rush to them pleading for a scrap of it when the skies darken and the chill wind blows. At the beginning of the 20th century perhaps 1 in 30 people contracted cancer, and perhaps 1 in 100 died from it. Now the figures are 1 in 2, and 1 in 3. Does anyone not think this is odd? The mystery was unravelled by a team of geniuses in Germany: one, Otto Warburg, who won the Nobel Prize for discovering a key catalyst in cell respiration, found if you deprive a normal human cell of oxygen for any length of time, it takes on the characteristics of cancer cells, in that it converts its energy mechanism to run on sugar instead, and grows uncontrollably.
No less than three other scientists from this man’s laboratory went on to win Nobel Prizes. And a fourth contemporary, Dr Johanna Budwig, traced the cause of modern cancers and set about finding an answer. In the early 20th century, fat molecules, essential for cell respiration, caused a problem in the field of manufacturing where it was discovered they went off too quickly from exposure to air. A process of saturation essentially froze these fat molecules so they could no longer react to oxygen, and the problem was solved. The resulting product was only a few atoms away from being plastic. In fact, if you leave modern margerine out, the bugs will avoid it as they know what is food and what isn’t.
These foods were useful in wartime conditions of lengthy storage and transport – also a requirement of mass manufacturing. I’ve started ordering food from a local organic farm, and am struck by how quickly the food goes off. Picking up some distilled water last week from the warehouse storing all my supplies, I noticed in one corner a palett of Qavers – the bright yellow packaging taking up several cubic metres – which must have been there for some time, as they were covered in dust. They don’t expire until 2015. Not all food is equal!
As Budwig pointed out, nobody stopped to consider what would happen to the human body when exposed to these fats over a lifetime. The cells, deprived of an oxygen-enabling source of food, when conditions are right, turn to other forms of sustenance, and cancer results. The body signals hunger in a vain attempt to gain some useful molecules, and over time obesity starts to enter the stage, crowding the other actors off. Budwig developed a diet rich in natural fats which, she found, had excellent results in curing cancer.
If one came off this diet it was harder still, on returning to it, to eliminate the tumour, as if the tumour had somehow learned to survive. Nor was it foolproof: she found, for example, it could not cure cancer in a woman staying in an abusive marriage. If this sounds strange, remember the immune system is subdued under stressful situations – so much so that during transplants, stress hormones are given to the patient so the immune does not function normally and reject the new organ. Cancer specialist Dr Carl Simonton found all his cancer patients had incurred a significant lifetime stress event a year or two before the tumour had become noticeable.
So the causative mechanism is partly a corporate decision while the opportunity is a matter of our stresses and immune system, and also apparently, the pH of our body. The reason any individual doesn’t have cancer is unarguably due to their immune system, whose job it is to tidy up such situations before they get out of hand. So detroying the immune system in the process of curing the patient is all backwards and violates the medical pledge: “first do no harm”. I recently visited a Harley Street ENT specialist to get a second opinion and reassurance that I had nothing to worry about. After a camera examination he politely disabused me of that idea and painted in vivid detail the end I could expect and which I could even mark off on a calendar.
The well-intentioned advice was to rush me to the chemo-radiotherapy he suggested at Charing Cross but, typical of me, it provoked an opposite response – I signed up instead to a four week, non-destructive, immunological approach, to be carried out in California. I feel a sense of failure, as I wanted to demonstrate that cancer could be beaten by the individual. For some weeks, on an impossibly convoluted regimen, I seemed to succeed – my plasterer cheerfully observed how the lump seemed to be shrinking, attributing it to his magnificent skills as a builder. But then some vitamin components ran out, and I failed to replace them as the hard-edged pills were painful to swallow – and anyway, I seemed to be in the clear – while others were replaced by different brands, and as the summer wore off, the sun (an essential part of therapy according to Budwig, being a limitless source of photons) became hard to find; gradually the genial comments ceased.
There’s no way to tell what would happen if I continued my natural diet alone and in peace, but I’m not at peace with the prognosis. Therefore it behooves me to put down the fiddle and ask help from those who harvested 60 years of experience with the immune system. This group presently has an 87% success rate (even with those who have been given up as hopeless) and seem lively, engaging and intelligent. Perhaps the California air will encourage more writing as well.
Regretfully therefore I temporarily down tools on my latest 35 square metre fresco until mid December, returning “refreshed, invigorated, and in tune with life” for Christmas. One must think for oneself and not live in fear and ignorance, but also must not suffer in shame and secrecy, and admit when their meagre store of gathered knowledge has been exhausted; it is a long, and winding road indeed.
In the meantime – eat well, and stay well!