When I met Mike in 2000 he had a small lump on his arm, near the elbow, it was the same colour as his skin but it tended to grow. I repeatedly asked him to get it checked, but, he is a man and they tend not to go to doctors, not that it helped, as when he did go in 2005, because it was bigger and tended to bleed easily, the doctor took it out and confidently said we did not have to send it to a lab as he knew what it was, a dermal fibroid.
At that stage in our lives we still believed doctors did not make mistakes so were stupid enough not to insist it be sent for analysis.
Needless to say the lump returned, a year later we went to a different doctor, this time the he insisted it was sent off. There are some competent doctors.
He phoned us a few days later, “come in and see me immediately, it is malignant melanoma”. Mike did not know what the ramifications were, but my heart dropped out of my toes, I had an interest in medical matters as mom had been a nurse and I had bad health throughout my life, also being albinoid, (one step away from albino) and having grown up in Africa, often getting sunburnt, I knew it was something I was most likely to get so knew a bit about it.
His was called “Amelanotic Nodular Melanoma” which, in normal English is a rare form that has no colour on the outside and is like a nodule on the skin, only when you cut it out can you see the black, the nodular part was the worry, it meant is was not just on the skins surface but went down into the lower layers making it one of the more dangerous types as it “seeds” in a spiral like a Catherine wheel firework. It is very difficult to remove as it’s “seeds” spread out over a large area.
The Doctors cut out with the prescribed wide margin of 2 cm, (not wide enough as it turned out), had a skin graft from his leg as the wound was so large, and a sentinel lymph node biopsy done.
Fortunately his lymph node was clear. Off to the dermatologist for a check to see if there was any more lurking anywhere else on his body, we were much relieved when he came up clear.
We knew he had his ticket to heaven but we did not know what bus he was going to catch.
What do you do? We went sailing, we had always intended to cruise and we left with the idea of being able to earn some money along the way.
When I started eating differently Mike was skeptical but seeing the astounding difference it made to my health he joined me, finding he also had gluten and dairy sensitivities. He felt much better eating my way.
We ended up in the UK, not my idea of the ideal cruising ground, I am a tropical bird, but it was a necessary move.
Mike is a marine engineer so he got a job on a tug doing a month rotation; shortly after he had accepted the job he noticed he had another lump on his arm.
Over the next 3 and a half years while working he had another 10 lumps removed, PetCT scans which were all clear, but we noticed a few things:
1) The lumps grew while he was on the tug, sometimes more than one at a time and faster.
2) They stayed stable or shrank when at home.
What saved Mike? Possibly his strong immune system? He very rarely got ill.
We now know that the healthier diet we were following was one of his saving factors and the reason his melanoma grew while he was on the tug, the food on board was dreadful nutrition wise. Positively toxic!
Realizing diet plays a very big factor in health we started researching what foods were shown to make cancers grow and what foods helped your body fight cancer.
After lump no 12 was cut out Mike was referred to a MacMillan nurse, (McMillan is a UK organization that supports those with cancer) who told him he was stage 4 (final stage) and his only hope was a strong immune system.
When he came back and told me, it was like a red rag to a bull, I took the concept by the horns and started researching.
With the news that he was not expected to live long and with Medical science not able to do much for those with melanoma we started to cruise again.
On our way across the Bay of Biscay in February 2012 he told me he had found another 2 lumps. He had noticed them on Christmas day but wanting to go cruising and have a life he did not tell me until after we had left.
Knowing I would have to work to support him I suggested I qualify as a nutritional therapist so as to have something to earn money while I nursed him. No good putting your head in the sand, it gets you nowhere we had to face the reality of his lingering death.
I could not earn my living sailing anymore, even though I continued to earn a living sailing after the trip we were poisoned on, my chemical sensitivity, PTSD and the continual stress took its toll and I was no longer able to sail for a profession, besides, earning a living sailing is not conducive to nursing a dying man as it means travelling away.
I am now a qualified nutritionist with a speciality in GAPS, (www.gaps.me) which treats and resolves mental, gastric and autoimmune disorders through diet. This protocol was developed by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride.
I also did some university courses on Cancer through Futurelearn which has given me an understanding of the genetic component of cancer, how it develops and why it is such a difficult monster to kill or control
Finding a video on YouTube by Professor Thomas Seyfried on his experiments with cancer, all the lights went on for me. If cancer could only use glucose to grow then to starve the monster could well be the way to go.
We had looked at other therapies and clinics, Gerson, Budwig, Bryshinski, Gonzales, Arcadia clinic, and some of the other cancer clinics but we just do not have that kind of money. Some of them were honest enough to say they did not think they could help. The raw diet was not one my husband would be able to do; he is too much of an omnivore.
Knowing that toxins played a huge part in cancer and Mike being a Marine Engineer and up to his elbows in one of the most carcinogenic substances on earth, petroleum product, most of his life was a factor we had to consider.
We take in toxins through our skin, what we breathe and what we eat and although he did not directly eat petroleum product he certainly did indirectly thought his skin and lungs.
It takes approximately 28 seconds for something you put on your skin to be absorbed into your blood stream especially oily substances. The lungs are one of your detoxification organs; in fact all the fats and oils you ingest are detoxified through the lungs, toxins can also be absorbed through them.
Plants detoxify the body while animal products build it, the two go hand in hand, and eating on either extreme is not necessarily healthy.
Mike was working while I was doing all the research and when he ended his contract he went back to the UK to see if he could have his latest lump removed. “That is a lipoma” (fatty cyst) the Dr stated. “But I have had 14 melanoma lumps removed already, all in that area, I know what they feel like” replied Mike. “No it is a lipoma” replied the Dr “you are not an urgent case”. If it had been me I would have demanded to see the practice manager about the inability of his Dr to recognise amelanotic melanoma and suggest she gets further training and her lack of good practice in her reluctance to listen to her patent, treating him like an idiot. Most patients know a lot about their condition.
Mike, instead, phoned me so we decided to have him fly to Gibraltar where I had just started a consultancy and so we were covered by medical there. This proved to be most fortuitous, they were amazing. I have nothing but praise for them. The lump, of course, was a big black monster, very visible when removed and the lab results confirmed the diagnosis. He has scans and X-rays to check if it had spread; fortunately he came up cancer free.
The Dermatologist there told us some people’s immune system is strong enough to keep the melanoma from spreading, we intended to make sure it stayed that way and if possible restrict the growth in the area as he was fast running out of skin for them to make the necessary big cuts for the removal of the lumps.
To date we have been able to keep him going on an adaptation of the Ketogenic diet.