Mama was 60 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage IV. She was irradiated only twice, had no chemotherapy whatsoever, but she lived for another 27 years!
Her left breast was hard as stone, with orange-peel skin, and retracted nipple when she had a radical mastectomy in 1973. With all her lymph nodes positive, she was irradiated immediately, straight from the operating room, and then again, early the following morning, in spite of explicit instructions to the contrary. That was the extent of my mother’s orthodox treatment. When asked how much time she had, the surgeon said he couldn’t give her a year, or a month…
Both physicians, my parents were aware of the hows and wherefores of chemotherapy and radiation, and were not disposed to go that route. More so as I had shared with them the hazards of radiation and the toxicity of chemotherapy that I had learned and seen as an Oncological Nurse-Intern at the James Ewing Hospital of the Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York City in the mid-1960s. Soon after the surgery my parents went to the U.S. for further consultations; the metastasis, along with the post-operative diagnosis, was confirmed.
As fate would have it, Dr. Manuel Navarro, Head of the UST Hospital’s Cancer Research Laboratory, was a contemporary of my parents at the UST College of Medicine, Class of ’39. Dr. Navarro’s HCG urine titer, along with the Beard Anthrone Test, were already being used abroad to detect cancer and monitor response to therapy. Dr. Navarro gave Papa and me copies of the book, World Without Cancer-The Story of Vitamin B17 by G. Edward Griffin. My brother, an Internist, said he was familiar with the substance of the material; the study, dating back to the early 1900s, was touched on in med school. Here was an alternative management, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain!
In World Without Cancer, Griffin summarizes the natural and non-toxic approach to managing cancer:
…avoid excessive damage or stress to the body, minimize foods that pre-empt the pancreatic enzymes for their digestion, and maintain a diet rich in all minerals and vitamins–especially vitamin B17.
To address the stress, my brothers and I took over the adminstration of coconut and rice lands that Mama had inherited from her parents. We tried to either shield her from, or help her with, tenant problems and threats of land reform as much as we could. Also she went back to playing the piano, something she truly enjoyed but had given up while raising 7 children.
* Amygdalin – Vit B17 / trade name LAETRILE — 500 mg. capsule 3 times a day, 30 minutes after meals. (Formerly available only in selected health food stores in certain States in the U.S., it is now available on the internet, and even locally.) Amygdalin destroys cancer cells without damaging other body tissues.
* Pancreatic Enzymes, specifically with chymotrypsin (for my mother’s advanced stage), 3 times a day, 1 hour before, or 2 hours after a meal, when stomach was empty, so enzymes would act on cancer cells, not food. Pancreatin, naturally secreted by our pancreas, includes enzymes which not only digest or liquefy food, but also prevent and destroy cancer.
* A natural, well-balanced Multi-Vitamin & Mineral, once daily
* Vitamin E, 400 i.u. once daily
* Vitamin C, 1000 mg. twice daily with breakfast and dinner
THE CHANGE IN DIET
* Absolutely NO animal protein (uses up and creates deficiency of pancreatic enzymes that could otherwise act on malignant cells)
* Only Carbs, Fruits, and Vegetables (preferably organically grown, no fertilizers, no pesticides)
* Between breakfast and 1:00 p.m., limited quantity of fish and vegetable proteins
* Roasted apricot NUTS to snack on
Determined to win the battle, my mother willingly gave up her favorite pork and liver dishes: morcon, mechado, adobo with liver mashed into the sauce, kilawing laman-loob with labanos in loads of liver sauce, and last but not least, her favorite lengua. She was allowed to have her vegetables sautéed with, but served without, pork, chicken, or shrimp. In place of meat, she had tokwa and TVP (textured vegetable protein) served either sliced, cubed, chopped, or in chunks that my sister-in-law Cora cooked a la ‘bistik’, adobo, menudo, afritada, or whatever timpla she fancied. Young cassava, a rich source of amygdalin, grated, steamed, then served with grated coconut and brown sugar was a regular snack. She gave up her chocolates but not her cup of coffee au lait which she took either with her morning or afternoon snack. And we would find her all sorts of edible seeds: apricot, apple, whatever, the more bitter, the better! She gritted her teeth, and stuck to the strict regimen.
My sibs and I, we all commiserated with Mama and even learned to eat, if not like, vege-meat, but it was Papa who went the whole nine yards, so to speak. He had a heart problem and had been advised to watch his cholesterol, and so it was a good time as any to give up the egg yolks and meat dishes (he loved bulalo and adobo) and switch to fish and vege-meat, scrambled egg-whites and red rice.
It was the seventies, after all, and New Age doctors were talking “wholistic health” and “organic foods”; medical journals and other media carried stories (that he would read to Mama) extolling the health benefits from organically, naturally, grown fruits and vegetables and the toxic effects of preservatives, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. So we all gave up ice cream – too many chemicals, Papa said, including daw the makings of shoe polish! – and we went for buko sherbets instead.
A periodic urine titer using the Navarro HCG Urinalysis assessed / monitored her body’s response to the diet/enzyme/mineral-vitamin protocol. And sure enough, in a year or so (if memory serves) her titer began to come in negative. Only then was she allowed to feast on lengua, or morcon, but just for a meal or two, and just once in a while.
Except for a benign cyst found and excised from just above her collar bone a year after her mastectomy, my mother’s battle with the dreaded metastasis was quite successful. The crucial factor, said Dr. Navarro, was that her healthy cells had not been damaged by the two exposures to radiation. And because she had no chemotherapy whatsoever, Mama never experienced the rigors of nausea and vomiting, or the angst over losing her hair; best of all, she never lost her appetite.
Mama lived 27 more years! and I know she could have lived even longer. But in 1999 she started musing about how she had lived far too long, awed that she had managed to survive Papa by 10 years. She said she just wanted to see the turn of the millennium and then it would be a good time to go.
She was totally blind by then. I was in my teens when she started losing her central vision to optic nerve degeneration. Aware that the active practice of medicine would become difficult for her with just peripheral vision, she went back to UST to earn her BS in Psychology so she could do Guidance and Counselling. As her sight waned she started learning Braille and handicrafts that she could do by feel. By age 70, and totally blind, she would sit by her radio listening to her favorite programs, while her hands busily, deftly crafted, out of gift ribbons, beautiful stemmed roses for family and friends. When she’d run out of ribbons, she’d work on foil sheets from discarded cigarette packs, cut them into strips, and fashion them into shiny buntings and trimmings for our Christmas trees. All by feel.
It was also around then that her mother, our Lola Concha, passed away, leaving behind three volumes of memoirs that go back all the way to the time of the friars, in Spanish, a language that none of my generation really speaks. Mama had us taking turns reading out the manuscript into a cassette tape recorder that she learned to operate by feel, and then she started translating it into English, line by line, touch-typing on an electric typewriter. Someone was always around to help her with the paper or warn her when she was at a page’s end, or read back to her what she had typed. It was slow work, and she stopped often, out of frustration, not seeing what she was writing, but she would always go back to it eventually, through most of the ‘80s and ‘90s: a precious work of love, a story of family and roots that we treasure and hope to publish one day, God willing.
I don’t know when my mother decided to stop taking her Vit B17s, as well as the pancreatic enzymes; she would not say. But stop them, she did. She admitted as much when she asked me to come and check out a mass in her lower abdomen. She died in February 2000 at age 87. To her three sisters, and everyone who cried at her passing, I said, “Please be happy for her. She now has 20/20 vision and looks down on us in full technicolor.”
In her memory, and in memory of the war she won against cancer, I speak up, every chance I get, on the merits of Vit B17 and the pancreatic enzymes.~~~