Aloe Vera Magic

Halfway into my chemotherapy, when I was feeling particularly grim, I decided to make an appearance at a village funeral.  It was a lovely community event and a tribute fitting to the lovely man who had died.  I had to leave early because of the cold, but my husband stayed on for a little bit longer.

Whilst there, a lady who owns an exotic garden not far away and a real pillar of the community came up to my husband and said ‘I know your wife is ill with breast cancer please come and see me, I may have a cure.’

I was intrigued, but exhausted by the whole process.  I felt like I was near death towards the end of my chemotherapy treatment, and my morale was very low.  I couldn’t stop thinking about her offer to help, and so when I was well enough and the chemotherapy was over, we went to visit Marie Christine at the local exotic garden.

She sat us down and first of all told me I should eat the new shoots of bamboo as they come through the earth.  Boil them in salted water for about ten minutes, peel and then eat with vinaigrette.  We already had bamboo in the garden, so this wasn’t a problem.  The small shoots tasted a bit like artichoke hearts and are apparently full of calcium, so are great for repairing the damage done to your bones during the chemotherapy treatment.  I also enjoyed, what became, my morning ritual of picking bamboo shoots poking through the ground each morning.

aloe vera blur cactus close up
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Marie Christine then explained that there was an actual cure for cancer, discovered by Father Romano Zago whilst living in some of Brazil’s poorest communities.  After making his discovery he wanted to share it as widely as possible.  He later worked with an Italian oncologist to test the reaction in a study of 450 patients – the results were positive in most cases, although not in all.  What did I have to lose?  As I was in the middle of treatment, I decided to wait until the chemotherapy and radiotherapy were over.  The recipe is very simple:

  • Half a kilo of organic honey
  • 45-50ml of cognac or whisky (apparently other spirits work too, just not wine or beer)
  • 350gm of aloe vera leaves – the spiky leaved variety

Put all the ingredients in a blender, blitz and then leave in a jar in the fridge.  Take a large spoonful before breakfast, lunch and dinner until the jar is finished (usually 10 days).  If there are no results, repeat the process again after 5-10 days.

You can find more information in the book Cancer Can be Cured by Romano Zago – I am skipping through the finer details and there’s lots of information on the internet.

So, I made up the mixture, using a plant she gave me, along with honey from our beehives, mixed with Armagnac, the local spirit.  I diligently took a spoonful (for about a week) before each meal, but the effect was so powerful, I felt drunk pretty much all the time.  I’d spent the previous six months eating very carefully, being pretty nauseous and without alcohol, so this potion was a little bit too much for my system to take.  I do get it though – cleaning out toxins in the body, so self-healing kicks in.  Now I am stronger, I will try it again, perhaps as a post New Year detox.

My advice:  it’s probably worth a go, but don’t do it if you are feeling fragile, as it really packs a punch.

Aloe Vera is an amazing plant – I would always use the gel from its leaves to take away the burns on my breast and chest area, or put it on the scars where the port had been under my skin.  Just cut the tip of the leaf, split it at the side, and take out the gel.  It seems to work, and is a nice contrast to conventional treatment.  There’s something really soulful about taking a leaf from a plant growing on your terrace, and using it as a cure, or just a balm throughout this process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnetic Energy

When something bad happens in your life, sometimes strange coincidences start to happen, it’s as if the universe kicks in to support you.  One of the odd things that happened to me (amongst the many) was the work of a diviner who had previously tested for water in our well.  We hadn’t seen him for at least five years, when my husband had called him on behalf of our neighbour to find the location of the underground water pipes in his old house.   My husband mentioned that I had cancer, and he  immediately asked for my full name as he was part of a healing group, he could heal remotely.  He added that the reason for cancer is usually geopathic stress (negative energy lines in the earth), or bad spirits attaching themselves to the body.  In my case it was geopathic stress (thankfully), and apparently our bed was in the wrong place.  We had to move it, and call him to check it was in the right place.  But how would he know?  Well with remote viewing of course…

chain gold cone pendulum
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So we moved the bed.  The large kingsize bed was now squeezed into the corner of the bedroom.  I was in the middle of my chemotherapy, so it wasn’t very convenient to say the least.  We both climbed over each other in the middle of the night, hoping that this was not going to be a long term solution to our problem.  We duly called the diviner three days later and he confirmed the bed was in a healthy place.  He would come round to fix our energy problem in the next few days.

Sometime later, the diviner arrived with a pendulum, several charts, and a baton of crushed scallop shells.  He confirmed that the section of the bedroom I had been sleeping in was the cause of the cancer, as the pendulum swung like crazy over one of his charts.  He was going to redirect the negative energy out of the house, into the garden area, and then neutralise the bad energy by burying the crushed scallop shells in a particular spot in the garden.  He then went from room to room, checking the energy, the fridge, our mobile phones, the electricity meter and the water supply.  Everything was neutralised with special symbols, incantations and shells positioned in various places!

seashells in a bag
Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

Has it made a difference?  Well the idea of bad energy doesn’t surprise me – I can often get that feeling when entering a house whether it has a good or bad vibe.  Did it cause my cancer?  It may have contributed, but I think it’s a whole collection of things which I am now addressing.  Do I believe in prayer?  Yes I do, and I am grateful for any help I have in this corner of rural France.  The fact that this man is in a healing group, and will come all the way to our house to try and help us really restores my faith in humanity and that’s a great thing.

 

 

Shamanic Journey

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I remember speaking to a friend of my husband’s who had been treated by a shaman, and successfully cured from cancer.  The process was long and intense, and required focussed dedication from both parties.  His description of his journey fitted my image of shamanic healing – hard work, and essentially stripping back the person to his or her soul level.  I was intrigued, but couldn’t imagine how I could experience this type of healing in my current state whilst going through a pretty gruesome treatment.

rainforest during foggy dayMy friend Vicky had mentioned someone called Papa Shaman who lived in South West France.  I’d always imagined shamans living in the South American rainforest, not in the suburban edge of Biarritz.  I looked on the website www.papashaman.fr and saw that he was having a healing ritual in the evening – like a shamanic taster – it seemed too easy, but I was intrigued all the same.

So one evening I dragged my poor husband along with me, and entered into the world of shamanism.  We both arrived in bad moods, having struggled to find the venue, and we were both cynical to say the least.  People were sitting around in a circle on their mats, waiting for Papa Shaman to arrive.  I remember feeling quite irritated, as it all seemed so flaky, and I was conscious that my husband would probably hate it.  Papa Shaman arrived – a gentle and earnest person, who explained that we were in this healing experience together, so not to judge people – could he read my mind!  But something remarkable happened, as people began to speak about why they were there, I began to soften and feel empathy rather than irritation.

The ceremony itself involved everyone lying down on their mats in a circle, whilst Papa Shaman moved into a trance-like state with the use of a large drum.  He then instinctively moved around the group, whispering incantations, and laying hands near the areas of the body which needed to be healed, and around the head.  It was an incredible experience, and the hour and a half we lay in the dark, felt more like ten minutes.   When he mumbled prayers, or their equivalent, it really did sound like something you would hear in the jungle or a rainforest.  I would sporadically feel a cool breeze on my face, or on parts of my body, and he instinctively knew where I had had the operation, without me saying anything.

When it was all over, he told each of us what he had seen through a series of visions, and also gave us advice on what we should do.  Plus at the end of our mats we received a stone which he said was precious and we should keep with us at all times.  The lady next to me actually started crying, because she could feel my pain, which really touched me and made me realise how cynical I had been.  Apparently Papa Shaman had also spent a considerable amount of time lifting out a concrete block from my husband’s chest – that didn’t surprise me – he has a tendency to hold onto his emotions.

So we both left feeling lighter and better – it’s difficult to explain why or how, but something profound did happen, and I felt Papa Shaman was always completely genuine, and the effort he put into the group’s healing that evening was really exceptional.  It felt like the right thing to do.

 

 

 

Being a Diva

One of the best pieces of advice I received after being diagnosed with breast cancer, was to be more like Mariah Carey – a diva.  At first I didn’t quite get it – was this really the best time in my life to be strutting around in fancy clothes, demanding only the very best.  My friend Clare explained to me that it was about taking care of myself, and using this time in my life to be number one.  Don’t be a people pleaser, don’t think of others needs, just think about yourself.pexels-photo-276064.jpegApparently one of the common symptoms of people who get cancer is that they are often ‘givers’.  I don’t think of myself as selfless by any means, but I had stopped looking after my own needs, and was definitely feeling a little lost.  Clare had told me to be selfish and to make sure I had a ‘healing ‘ environment at home.  So after my operation and before the chemotherapy started, my husband and I had a checklist of items to complete:

  1. Make sure you are warm – put an extra heater in the bedroom
  2. Your bathroom should be a little more luxurious: put Epsom salts in the bath after each chemotherapy treatment; soak in the bath with a pillow to rest your head and put in a wireless speaker so you can listen to healing music while bathing
  3. Change your bedlinen regularly, and make sure it’s lovely crisp white cotton
  4. Have a scented soy wax candle next to your bed
  5. Put a pile of books or/and Kindle next to your bed – you’re going to have plenty of time to read
  6. Have some sort of screen in there to watch films and TV series on
  7. Wear a beautiful pair of pyjamas or nightdress in very soft cotton
  8. Have your room cleaned thoroughly before your ‘healing’ retreat starts
  9. Have a notebook next to your bed, to write down your thoughts – light and dark
  10. Use the best face cream you can find, as your skin is going to need nourishment

If you’re wondering why there isn’t a picture of Mariah Carey, it’s because I couldn’t find one without royalties.  She’s very easy to picture anyway in your mind’s eye, and a little mantra for me whilst going through my recovery was always ‘What would Mariah Carey do?’  It’s just a little reminder to make yourself number one during this trying time.

Pickled Apricot

One of the weirdest things I did during my breast cancer treatment was to put a pickled apricot in my belly button before every chemo session.  It’s actually called Umeboshi, a Japanese pickled apricot, which can be bought in jars from health food shops.  My friend Andrea who is an expert in Chinese healthcare explained that this would be effective in combatting nausea during the chemotherapy treatment.  The navel is the centre of the body, and the properties of the Umeboshi balances its energies.

 

 

Umeboshi2

So how do you fit an apricot in your navel?  Here’s how.  You take out the stone of the apricot, and then wrap the Umeboshi in gauze and carefully place it in your belly button.  Then tape it to secure it.  You leave it in for as long as you feel necessary, so it could be 24 hours, or it could be five days.  I generally took it out after five days, when the worst of the chemotherapy was over.  The dressing itched slightly, and I always knew when I’d had enough.

So does it work?  Well, I certainly didn’t suffer too badly from nausea.  I was never sick, but I never had much of an appetite.  The hospital wanted me to take anti-nausea medication, but I refused it.  I’d just had enough, so even if by putting a pickled apricot in my belly button acted as a placebo, then I think it helped.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

I remember as I was nearing the end of my treatment, an Irish friend Anne told me about a large bell in a cancer wing of an Irish hospital.  When patients had finished their treatment, they were encouraged to ring the bell to mark the end – a sort of celebration – it seemed like a lovely idea.

When I first heard about this, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind.  I couldn’t wait for my treatment to be over, but would it be a celebration?  Every time I imagined ringing the bell I wanted to rip it off the wall.  Rather than it being an ‘air punching’ moment, I imagined screaming out, relieved it was all over, but angry too that I had been subjected to this treatment.

pexels-photo-633497.jpegAs part of my ‘therapy’ I would listen to songs on Spotify whilst driving back and forth to the hospital.   The song Ballerina by Van Morrison would often crop up on a playlist from his album Astral Weeks.  One of the lines of the song is ‘All you gotta do is ring a bell’.  The song went round and round in my head, conjuring up the vision of me trying to ring the bell in the hospital.  While singing along there would be tears rolling down my face.

As the final day of radiotherapy neared, I was exhausted and literally burnt out.  I stared at the wall during the treatment and then pulled my gown back on, feeling numb.  The radiologist turned to me at the end with a smile on her face, and said ‘this is your final session.’  I just burst into tears, sobbing as an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders.  She comforted me by saying that I had been well dressed with make up on every day.  I replied ‘yes, I’ve tried to be strong for too long.’

It’s a Cover-Up

I’d always presumed I would wear a wig if I lost my hair after chemo.  My friend Chloe had given me her old ‘breast cancer’ wig which was a good fit and the same colour as my hair, so it was left in a drawer until Doomsday.  The fact was, when my hair did start to fall out, my scalp became very itchy and bumpy with some sort of rash.  My instinct was to wrap it in something very soft, but the inside of the wig was harsh and coarse.  What to do?pexels-photo-936559.jpegAt the point my hair began to fall out, my friend Philippa came round to see me.  I was distressed because it had started to appear whenever I sat down – the sofa, the dining room table, my pillow……she suggested wearing a turban, and set about looking on the internet for scarf tying tutorials.  Now the thing about Philippa is that she is an ex-Vogue stylist, so I knew I was in good hands.  Philippa also runs a cool online brocante shop Duck’s Nest Vintage www.etsy.com/shop/Ducksnestvintage?ref=ss_profile

Rather than look like I should be scrubbing steps, I tried to channel Sophia Loren or Liz Taylor on board a Mediterranean yacht in the sixties.  It was also winter, and our house is very drafty, so wearing a scarf round my head also kept out the excruciating cold which my newly shaved head experienced.  I found a large oblong scarf the easiest to wrap around my head, rather than the square scarves which create a different look.   Here’s the link for Liberty scarf tying tips: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k4xMtHQMdg

Later on, as my hair started to grow back, and the weather became warmer, it became difficult to wear scarves around my head, as it was just too hot.  It was also the period when I’d lost my eyelashes and eyebrows, so I was feeling particularly gloomy about my looks.  I’d been given lots of beautiful square silk scarves – some from my stepdaughter who’d recently visited Beirut.  My hair was growing back, but it was more like a peach fuzz, so it couldn’t really be exposed, together with the fact that I had developed a sensitivity to the sun due to the chemo.  My friend Jeny Sugg came to the rescue.  She often wears funky scarves, and has a cool retro style, and persuaded me to create a more fun look with large glasses, hiding my lack of eyebrows and eyelashes, together with square scarves tied with more volume on top.  Here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXWgVQweGVY&t=276s.  Jen makes beautiful handmade items such as knickers, cards and cushions – she also has an online shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/frenchkitschdesigns?ref=search_shop_redirect

I now have a Pixie cut hairstyle, so I am scarf-free.  It’s such a relief to have my head uncovered, but looking back the scarf provided little moments of joy during a pretty dark period.