“Don’t let the complexity of cancer blind you to the simplicity of healing.”Dawn Waldron
Specialising in breast cancer support was a natural choice following my own diagnosis over twenty-five years ago. I had a strong sense that my life choices had contributed to my problems, and somehow, I knew I needed ‘more than medicine’ to survive. The resulting search to understand the links between my diet, lifestyle, habits and personality became a personal mission, and blossomed into a lifelong vocation.
Back then (pre-Google) there was hardly any self-help information available which, on reflection, may have made it easier to make decisions than the bombardment that cancer patients face today. In fact, there is now more evidence available on breast cancer than one person can reasonably be expected to read. And more misinformation too.
A NUTRIGENETIC DISEASE
I have spent the past twenty-five years studying the science, following the trends, reading the books, analysing the studies, and waiting for the breakthroughs. Given the massive funding allocated to cancer, it may seem surprising that a cure has not been found. But, to be honest, and a little controversial, I think it’s because the research is focussed on the wrong things. Experts argue whether cancer is a genetic disease, or a metabolic disorder when, in fact, it’s a disease of the whole body. So many pathways are disrupted by cancer’s tactics that it’s unlikely we’ll ever find a targeted cure. We spend our research money looking for drugs when both the scientific and anecdotal evidence points towards the role of diet, lifestyle and environment. For me, the aha! moment came with the arrival of nutrigenomics – the science that studies the interactions between our genes and our diet and lifestyle choices.
If you went to school in the 20th Century you were probably taught that your genes are an inevitable blueprint for life but it isn’t true! Our genes certainly do affect our health, but they work in response to the instructions we give them: instructions provided by the food we eat, the light we see, the exercise we take, the chemicals we are exposed to and the thoughts we think. And, although we all have the same genes, we also have tiny mutations in some of those genes that create big differences in the way we function.
LIVING BEYOND YOUR GENES
Everything I have learned about human genetics has reinforced my view that the way we live is at the heart of the problem. And although the science of genetics is inexplicably complex, the underlying message is very simple: we need to return to nature.
The big killer diseases of the twentieth century are lifestyle based, and cancer is no different. They are largely the result of the rapidly changing environment caused by industrialisation and commercialisation. The world changed at a pathological speed throughout the 1900s and our biochemistry struggled to keep up. When I think of my grandmother, I remember she walked to the corner shop and back most days, chatted over the fence to her neighbour, took the occasional phone call from one of her seven children, listened to the radio in the evening and went to church on Sunday. Alcohol was something she had at Holy Communion! A life like that is unimaginable now. Is it any wonder our minds and bodies can’t cope? The rapid changes have both depleted the nutrient content of our diets and increased the nutrient requirement of our bodies, leading to a fundamental shift in biochemistry, and tipping the balance towards global poor health. Moreover, micronutrient deficiencies are a primary source of DNA damage, comparable with exposure to radiation, according to Michael Fenech’s ground-breaking research.
FASTER THAN WE CAN EVOLVE
While the human body is amazingly adaptable, two generations is not enough time for the human genome to change in response to this new environment. The rise in cancer is one of the consequences. Some of us are more affected by the changes than others as a result of the genes we have inherited. ‘Single nucleotide polymorphisms’ or SNPs can make you more vulnerable to environmental toxins, more prone to hormonal imbalances, more sensitive to endocrine disrupting chemicals, more impacted by the effects of stress, and less able to protect and repair delicate strands of DNA.
If we could turn back the clock, I’m sure we could reduce the rate of cancer, but that’s impossible. Likewise, we can’t speed up the process of evolution. So we need to do what we can to live within our genetic limitations – supporting optimal gene expression, compensating for genetic differences, and protecting DNA integrity, synthesis and repair.
In short, we need to send better messages to our genes. And nature has a very clever way of doing that: with sleep, exercise, sunshine, love, connection, fresh seasonal food, a healthy gut and microbiome, and a supportive environment with a well-supported liver. Of course, it’s not possible to live a ‘perfect life’ in the 21st century, not least because of all the irreversible damage that has happened to the planet. But we can make improvements with relatively small changes to the way we live – Improvements that can improve cancer outcomes. Natural healing can really make a difference; in many cases it makes all the difference. Thankfully, organisations like Radical Remission exist to remind us that we can heal even when medicine tells us ‘there’s nothing more we can do’.
LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
Oncologists are generally reluctant to acknowledge the role of self-help, particularly when it comes to nutrition, but cancer patients desperately need to know that they can get involved in their own recovery. A growing body of research based on integrated oncology protocols (those that include both conventional and complementary medicine) confirms that diet and lifestyle are important at all stages of the cancer experience, from onset and diagnosis, through treatment and into recovery.
But the stubbornness to acknowledge the power of nature is confined to conventional medicine, it is a widespread problem. We are all inclined to ignore the warnings of our bodies while pushing ourselves to achieve more and more. I know I had been ignoring messages from my body for years before I was diagnosed. Perhaps that’s true for you too?
Making a good recovery from cancer, and protecting yourself against future diagnosis, is about accepting that the way you were living before diagnosis didn’t suit you, and doing everything you can to create a significant ‘before and after’ shift in your life: in your diet, your lifestyle, your gut and digestion, your environment, your genes and your mindset. These are the factors we will explore in our work together; the five petals of my ‘power flower’ model.
A TIME TO HEAL
These days, I gather that in many oncology departments it’s customary for patients to ‘ring the bell’ when they finish treatment. If I could, I’d like to spend an hour with everyone who rings that bell, explaining that – although treatment is finished – recovery has only just begun. If you’re lucky, you’ll leave the hospital free from cancer, but ironically it’s likely that you will be a lot less healthy than when we were at diagnosis. Treatment leaves your immunity compromised, your gut in tatters, your genes unprotected, your nutrient levels depleted, and your metabolism at rock bottom. It’s vitally important to start building back as soon as possible in order to reduce the risk of recurrence. The end of treatment also happens to be the time when patients tend to hit an emotional low as they come to the end of the supported phase of treatment, and wonder what to do next.
This post-treatment phase is the perfect time to begin the healing. A time to nourish yourself again – to feed your cells, your gut, your brain and your dreams. A time to reflect on what elements of your life you want to change, and to remember the messages that your body was trying to tell you all along. A time to start to send better messages to your genes, and to restore your natural genetic protection that was stripped away during treatment, and to explore your genetic polymorphisms so that you can focus on the right areas for future health. It’s also the perfect time to implement a powerful protocol without fear of interfering with your treatment goals.
The ability to heal is a power that you were born with, and it never leaves you. My role is help you regain that power – to join the dots between cancer, nutrigenomics and the power of natural healing, and put you back in charge of your health and happiness.
I believe our genes are trying to communicate with us all the time. I think we ‘know’ things that cannot be explained by our current understanding of human health. And I believe we ignore these messages at our peril. So my work is not based around telling you what to do, but around helping you to listen to yourself and work out what you need and what your body is telling you. Moreover I want to encourage you to respect those messages, rather than leaving them in your subconscious.
RELATING TO YOURSELF
This is the space in which I practice. Cancer is a condition that calls us back into relationship with ourselves and with our surroundings. It asks us to change the way we interact with the world, to listen to the messages that come from deep inside our consciousness, and live within our physiological and psychological limits.
When I first started practicing, it was considered not only brave but also a little foolish to work with cancer patients – there was a gaping hole in the care and information available to patients who wanted to get involved in their own recovery. I made it my mission to fill that gap, but it was a lonely place to be. More recently there has been a welcome increase in awareness of ‘integrated oncology’ and there are many highly qualified practitioners, including medical doctors, who are able to support cancer patients with a combination of conventional and complementary care, especially during treatment. This development has, I feel, allowed me to focus more specifically on the area that fascinates me most: genetics.
My work is based in evidence, experience and empathy, drawing on the science while encouraging your own self-knowledge. I help dozens of women each year to see their situation with new eyes, and regain their health and happiness. Our goal is to create a meaningful ‘before and after’ shift in your life that will allow your your natural healing ability to thrive.
INFORMATION AND SUPPORT WHEN YOU NEED IT
You can enlist my help in the following ways
- Become a paid subscriber to my website for access to all the information about diet, lifestyle, cancer and nutrigenomics I’ve amassed (and will continue to gather) over the past 25 years.
- Book a Power Flower initial consultation to benefit from my knowledge and experience to point you in the right direction and support your recovery.
- Book a Nuclear Power nutrigenomic consultation with DNA testing to work out where to focus your diet and lifestyle changes for maximum benefit.
- Attend one of my regular Livestream education events.
I am a well-established figure in the world of integrated cancer care: I have been a cancer survivor/thriver for twenty-five years; a nutritional therapist for twenty years; and I have been studying nutrigenomics for ten years: an unrivalled length and depth of experience. As a former tutor and lecturer in nutritional therapy, I have trained hundreds of nutritional therapists, and I am frequently invited to speak to professional audiences.
After twenty years I still love what I do, particularly the way my work brings me into contact with so many strong-minded and inspiring individuals with a huge appetite for life. My role is not to heal you but to help you heal yourself, to help you identify the areas that need to change to improve your chances of making a full recovery. Our work will help you to overcome some of the uncertainty, remind you that there is so much more to healing than your prognosis is able to encompass, and empower you to grab hold of your future with confidence.
If this approach resonates with you I recommend booking a consultation below:
If you haven’t listened to my talk (and all the others brilliant speakers) on the recent Your Life and Cancer 2020 conference you might like to go there after this. This was a breakthrough event for the UK that I was proud to be part of. Yes to Life is an amazing charity set up specifically to support people who want to approach their cancer recovery from a wider perspective than conventional medicine admits.
- Postgraduate Certificate in Personalised Nutrition – Middlesex University/CNELM – 2018
- BANT Registered Nutrigenetic Counsellor – 2017
- Institute for Functional Medicine: Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice – 2017
- ION Short Course: Cancer Nutritional Support before, during and after treatment and beyond – 2015
- Dip. ION (Distinction) Nutritional Therapy – Institute for Optimum Nutrition
- Certified Professional Coach – International Coach Academy – 2012
- BSc (Hons) Management Sciences – UMIST
- 25 year survivor (drug free) of Grade 3, Stage 3, receptor negative breast cancer – underwent lumpectomy, axillary clearance, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
- Nutritionally managed complete remission of Proliferative Verrucous Leukoplakia diagnosed in 2006, without medication or surgery.
- 20 years clinical experience – working with breast cancer patients exclusively since 2016.
- BANT – Member of the British Association for Nutritional Therapists since 2003
- BANT – Registered Nutrigenetic Counsellor since 2017
- CNHC – Member of the Complementary and Natural HealthCare Council
Picture: Nude in the Bath and Small Dog, Pierre Bonnard