Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Ongoing Cancer Story

What follows is the story up to a few weeks ago. It covers three years so is a bit long. It clears the decks though. I may add reports from time to time as things change.

I've decided to post it because it may be of use to people with or involved with the disease. It may also give people a chance to advise me of anything useful I need to check out. Posting this information was not the impetus for my deciding to have a go at blogging. Cancer isn't the main focus of my life. It was for a while when I was dying and there appeared no escape but that no longer seems to be the case. Death or rather fear of death certainly limits one's horizons dramatically and cancer or conquering cancer seems to obsess many sufferers. I'm not the obsessive type when it comes to health. This story isn't about dealing with death. I was dying but death itself is a vastly different matter. No doubt I'll come to that later but you won't read about it here! But I could be wrong on that too!

I suspect that most of my posts on this blog will turn out to be on matters concerned with life and living it more fully and with greater clarity and integrity. The meaning of life has to do with the heart and honouring the truth of it. This can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for me but it's that kind of thing that really interests me.

But cancer cropped up in a very timely fashion for me to examine and I had no choice but to give it my full attention. That's usually how life works me out. I wander ignorantly along in a hopeful dream and then life catches my attention with more important things.

Here's a rough idea of what happened as far as I can tell.


"Mr Gilson, I’m afraid the results of the biopsy are positive."

Mr Crundwell was a nice enough man, a urologist by trade. He was the second doctor to stick a finger up my bum and have a feel around. The first had been the female locum GP who’d sent me for a blood test. Having your prostate felt doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t do anything as long as you don’t feel embarrassed and that’s one thing I don’t often suffer from.

Doctors don’t like to use the word cancer. They must know from experience they might as well be putting on the black cap and passing the death sentence. I bet some poor old chaps fall down in a faint. My heart sank but I caught it before all the blood drained away.

After seeing him a few weeks before to get the results of the blood test for prostate specific antigens I’d been forewarned and had a couple of weeks to call one or two people and develop a plan of action if the biopsy turned out to be bad news. A normal PSA level in older men is under 3. My PSA was 26.9. I got no direct response when I asked how high it can go. Everyone is different. PSAs vary. It might not be cancer but it didn’t look good. A biopsy would remove all doubt.

So here we are. No doubt now.
How serious is it? 5+4 on the Gleason scale. Almost as high as it gets. Not that the Gleason scale meant anything to me. A poorly differentiated mass of cells rather than a lump you can chop out. Advanced prostate cancer. The aggressive sort that spreads to the bones. Bang! My status on the planet had changed. Only a very temporary resident now with a visa for a two or three year stay at the most.

I was still unfamiliar with any of the jargon and in no fit state to think or take much in. But I knew I was buggered. Stopped in my immortal tracks. Shit, shit, shit.

All I could think was I was damned if I’d let him condemn me to death. He must have had very few like me who wouldn’t play the game but he didn’t show it. He’d seen them come and seen them die. Sooner or later after all the operations and drugs they’d give up the ghost. What a shit job his was. In his experience, based on no research whatsoever I’m sure, alternative approaches didn’t work. He knew of no cure, had nothing to offer in the way of advice on alternative treatment or change of diet, only hormone drugs that worked for a while and then lost effectiveness, operations and radiation, Macmillan nurses and prostate cancer support groups. The thought appalled me.

His advice was that I should have a bone scan to see if it had metastasised (another word I came to know well) and start taking some synthetic chemical to cut the production of testosterone and switch my prostate off. Chemical castration. Depending on the results of the bone scan they might then remove the prostate. That could result in impotence and incontinence with no guarantee that the cancer wouldn’t return. He didn't say all that at the time but a few searches on the internet had soon opened my eyes.

I was polite but said I’d think about it. I said I wanted to try an alternative approach using nutrients. Friends had given me lots of information about changing my diet and the name of a vet who’d developed a cancer treatment that worked for dogs. He smiled knowingly. Not condescendingly, just wanly. In his experience alternative methods didn’t work. But it was my body and my choice. He’d do what he could to help but didn’t recommend my approach in any way.

Another thing I’d picked up was that xrays and bone scans with their radioactive element compromise the weakened immune system even more and encourage the growth and spread of cancer cells. Even the biopsy had been much worse than I’d thought. A tube up my bum and then a needle fired into my prostate eight times. Each one hurt more than the last. How did my sick prostate deserve that?

I asked if I could have an MRI scan instead of a bone scan. He agreed and so I said goodbye and tottered out into the waiting area, walked past the other poor old sods caught up in this death processing plant, out into the long corridor with wards off to left and right, past the odd ghostly looking patient being wheeled about with tubes dripping stuff into their arms. A huge, modern, industrial complex dealing in sickness, radiation, knives and drugs. Dehumanising. Depressing. Depressing. Out of the automatic doors, past the scattering of people, relatives, patients, who could tell, hanging around the bus shelter having a fag. Somehow I had to get to the bottom of this one and this time doing nothing didn’t seem to be an option.

First problem was telling children and friends. The thing you don’t understand till you’re faced with it is that the one with cancer is at the hub of a whole network of those suffering with it despite not actually having it. My kids, my friends, work colleagues. I’m not the sort to keep things secret but explaining isn’t easy especially when you’ve decided to avoid the medical route. Courage or foolhardiness. They want you to take the safe option. But the safe option seemed dangerous and ultimately terminal to me. I couldn’t face living under a death sentence. I had to find a way to cure the cancer. I knew my kids wanted me to stay alive. I was only 60 and far too young for them to let me go. So I had to be positive for all of us and with no special reason why.

The MRI showed an enlarged lymph node in my groin as well as the enlarged prostate but not much else. Part of me didn’t want to be told it had spread to my bones so I rejected the bone scan. I also decided to stay off the chemical castration for as long as possible and explore all the natural options first.

So I went to see the vet, an extraordinarily caring and somewhat eccentric man, and started taking his stuff and following his recommendations on diet. I cut out meat and sugar and ate only organically grown food. This made catering when away working in London a bit difficult but I stuck at it. I also took all the things the alternative people recommend for a healthy prostate, cooked tomatoes, vitamin C by the teaspoonful, vitamin D3, lots of carrot and apple juice, selenium, too much stuff to list here quite frankly. The idea of it all still depresses me.

Having read somewhere that the mercury in tooth fillings can seep into the body and cause damage at the cellular level, I decided to have all my fillings changed for white ones. We are constantly given reassurances that the mercury in fillings is safe but I simply don’t trust the authorities in such matters. The consequences of admitting there is a problem would be so great that the health service couldn’t cope with it. They probably take the view that the poison doesn’t take effect until old age and then who cares. Well that’s their affair. I had over a dozen amalgam fillings and got rid of the lot.

For a while nothing happened. I lost weight but had been a couple of stone overweight before so didn’t mind that. I also consulted a homeopath and took all kinds of potions. I’ve no idea if they were any help but she was a positive lady who shared my view of the dangers of mainstream cancer medicine. Having people who fully supported my approach felt very important. On her recommendation I ordered pots and sachets of herbs from India to be taken every morning. I have no idea what they do but am still taking some of them.

My PSA ticked up gently to about 45 after 4 months. Still no idea how high PSAs could go. On my next visit to the consultant he expressed surprise that it had remained so low. This was encouraging. Something was working somewhere.

As well as homeopathy, very early on I spoke to a chap on the phone who did some kind of distant healing. He tuned in to me and told me an interesting tale. Apparently in a past life I’d been a respectable merchant in Ghent who had sexually abused his three daughters and never owned up to it. My prostate trouble was a residue of the shame he’d taken to his grave. It’s easy to laugh at this kind of thing and tell me I was clutching at straws but my motivation was slightly more mature than that. I didn't want to rule anything out however whacky it might seem to my western educated mind. I was also pleased that the three daughters I have this time around have escaped being victims of my sexual advances.

However, he also told me before my biopsy that I didn’t have cancer but merely precancerous cells. When the result of the biopsy came through I had a friendly and entertaining chat with him. His other worldly sources ended up by saying the whole point of the problem was to give me a chance to explore and sort things out for myself. It sounded a bit convenient and unlikely to me but I don’t dismiss it out of hand. After all what would I have learned or changed in my behaviour and diet if the problem had been fixed by some kind of miracle.

I was reminded of the story told about Dr Usui, the founder of the Reiki school of healing. After he’d sat fasting on top of the mountain for ages he got hit in the head by some balls of light and passed out. When he came round and tottered down the mountain he found that he had amazing healing powers. Naturally enough he went off looking for sick people to heal and worked all manner of miracles. After a while, however, he found that the people he’d healed were returning with the same or similar afflictions. He then understood that the greater need was to teach people the causes of disease and how their behaviour needed to change.

So I was being asked to get to the root of the problem and change my ways. That seemed a very reasonable suggestion to me and that was how I approached my exploration of cancer.

I’ve always been given to getting to the truth of things in life and always felt rather at a loss to know how to go about it. One thing I did come to know was that I was ignorant about most things. Education can fool us into thinking we know something by fostering the illusion that information is king. I fell into that trap for a few years in my twenties until life, by way of a failed marriage, taught me a major lesson. I learned how emotionally ignorant I was and also how much more there is to know than I had the power to see.

Since then I have tended to be more open to apparently strange people with inexplicable gifts. I remain open minded and willing to give them a go. Many of them are deeply flawed in some ways but their gifts have often grown out of the problem caused by the flaw and I needed to suspend judgement a little.

I’ve no idea if the man’s efforts to clear the old damage did me any good but I allowed for the possibility and am grateful to him.

From time to time during that first summer post diagnosis I developed aches and pains in my back, ribs and on the tops of my hipbones. They passed in a few days so I just got on with life. In scanning the internet I heard about different natural medications to try out. There was a magic powder from South America called Graviola. It tasted so disgusting I gave up taking it after a few weeks. Whatever prostate supplement I tried my PSA never came down.

I began to look gaunt and pallid. Even before I had the first blood test my daughter Anna had remarked that I looked a funny colour and that my hands appeared to be shaking. I wasn’t aware of the shaking and dismissed the colour thing. She it was who finally made me go to the doctor’s in the first place to find out why I needed to pee two or three times in the night.

For those at risk of suffering the same experience as me I should say that changes in peeing are important. The first was when I started to do an extra dribble in my pants after peeing. I’m sure there’s some excellent medical term for it but I’ve never learned it. I’d been experiencing that for a few years before I was diagnosed. I’d even mentioned that and peeing twice in the night to another locum GP I saw a year before the first PSA test. She hadn’t mentioned let alone suggested a PSA test (about which I knew nothing by the way, such was my ignorance) or any possible risk of cancer. She just said these things happened as men get older.

With my current knowledge I would say this was nothing short of negligence on her part. On the other hand though, if I’d been diagnosed a year earlier I may have been bullied into having my prostate removed “to solve the problem”. Given my present situation I would have regretted that and probably not have taken any action to sort out the underlying causes of cancer. As a result it may well have returned somewhere else in a more serious form. But more thoughts on that later.

Peeing gradually began to loom large in my life. If I needed a pee I had to have one urgently or I not only dribbled in my pants but wet them. I soon got to know where every public lavatory was in Exeter and would plan my trips with access to them in mind. Once when out with daughter Anna I had to pee behind a bush very near the town centre. She was lovely about it and expressed nothing but kindness. It was like slowly returning to infancy.

When I did pee the flow was poor as if the tube was getting blocked. Indeed this was the case. My prostate was swelling and tightening its grip on my urethra. The deterioration was gradual but more and more noticeable. I would lie in bed at night trying to understand what was happening to me. I felt unable to do anything to stop the process of deterioration.

There are plenty of self-help cancer books from survivors. I was given some and read a few pages. Generally they all agreed on the importance of changing one’s diet and cutting out meat, salt and processed food, especially sugar. The rest was all about positive thinking and fighting the disease. This warlike approach never took my fancy. I could never see the cancer or my prostate as the enemy. I didn’t want to fight cancer. The language of war and battle seemed wrong to me. No! There’s too much attacking and blaming in the world we’ve created for ourselves. What good would it do to blame my prostate or my diet or even fate for that matter?

My deepest desire was, as always in my life when faced with trouble, to find out the cause, to get to the bottom of it, to be honest about what that meant for me and to learn and change. Surely that’s one of our main tasks in life. It seemed to me that my body was trying to tell me that something needed changing and it was up to me to find the answer. As I told any doctor I came across, I regarded my cancerous prostate as a messenger not an enemy. I needed to decipher the message not destroy the messenger.

Part of the thinking behind this came from the fact that many people who had their prostate removed went on to get cancer somewhere else after a few years. Doctors seemed to be able to remove cancers or kill them off but never sought to cure the tendency some people had to produce them. I’d also read somewhere that American doctors who got prostate cancer rarely underwent the treatments they recommended. A telling fact if ever there was one.

The modern school of thought is that our intention is the root of our experience. Had I somehow invited this cancer in? After much pondering I remembered some thoughts I’d had in the autumn before I was diagnosed. I had experienced a sense of lacking purpose in life one evening, something not entirely unusual for me. I was 60 and on my own though I had been living with a close friend for a couple of years. My children were grown up and no longer needed my financial support.

As someone who’d tried to record anything that I’d discovered in life that might be of value to others in their explorations, I now felt I’d written everything down that had been on my mind and there seemed to be nothing left for me to do.

In my head it occurred to me to offer my life up to the next step, whatever that might be. I couldn’t imagine it because I had no idea what to imagine. I was ready to step into the unknown. I actually said “I’m ready whatever it might be.” Sure enough, two months later I was given cancer to work with. So you could say it was the answer to my prayer. People think I’m barmy when I say this, but I’m grateful for the message and never felt angry or cheated by it. Here was the next thing to get my teeth into. It might kill me but at least I’d do my best to get to the bottom of it and also do my best to show that it wasn’t the death sentence doctors want us to believe.

In the meantime though things kept getting worse. Nothing I tried seemed to have any useful effect in stopping let alone reversing the rise in my PSA level. Listing all the products that didn’t work for me might be useful but I can’t bear the thought of doing it. There are some people who seem to revel in keeping diaries of the progress of their disease and in recent times, video blogs on the internet. Not for me I’m afraid. I was simply looking for answers in whatever form they presented themselves. Plenty of time for reporting back once the process was over and I’d emerged alive.

That November, on the train into work from my son’s place in west London, I fainted. I was standing up holding a pole and then slithered to the floor. I couldn’t remember that ever happening before. Though disconcerting, the sensation wasn’t unpleasant. It got me a seat for the rest of the journey and I went to work as usual. Apart from the ever-increasing piddling problem it was the first real sign that I might be getting weaker. It was a year since I’d been diagnosed. My PSA had passed 100 at the end of August. 150 a month later. 250 by the end of October. 354 on 9th December.

Up to then I’d been happily carrying on with my job as a training consultant looking after the teaching skills of a team of computer trainers in a large training company. I only worked three days a week in London and spent the rest of my time with my friend Sarah in Exeter.

The pressure from my kids for me to get more medical help couldn’t be ignored forever. I was open with them about my rising PSA. So, at Christmas, I agreed to a bone scan to find out what was happening. Sure enough, as I suspected, there were dark spots on my pelvis, ribs and spine. Not too many but enough for that nice bogey word “metastasis” to enter the picture. I was fairly sure there had been some bone presence a year before but now it was certain.

Was I just being a fool? I knew I could count on Sarah to understand where I was coming from. At great emotional cost to herself she was a rock. But my ex-wife thought I was mad and probably the kids too when worry got the better of them. They admired me for my determined approach and efforts to find a cure but they had probably looked into the prognosis for themselves and kept their conclusions from me. I know they wanted to support me but felt it was best not to add to my worries by voicing theirs to me. I’m not sure if that approach works. I could sense their fears and would have preferred them to be out in the open where we could have felt them together. A lack of openness lies at the heart of many ills and sometimes makes terminal illness a lonely and disturbing business when it doesn’t need to be.

Once in a while I even felt guilty for what I was putting my family through. Cancer does that to you. Should I have gone the medical route and had knives and chemo with all the slow misery that entails? Do what felt deeply wrong just to please them? Everything in me rejected that victim approach. I’m sorry but I don’t want to die with tubes hanging out of me in a morphine haze. There had to be a better way.

For a few weeks in January I tried something called cesium that was supposed to change the ph balance in the blood and cause the cancer cells to die. It gave me diarrhoea and my PSA was over 1000 by the end of the month. Another trial abandoned.

Things got more serious around then. One day I got to work and just couldn’t do anything. I felt weak, faint and worn out. I went home to my son’s place and never worked again. I managed to drive back to Exeter as best I could, piddling several times in a bottle on the way. Once home at Sarah’s I went to bed and from then on spent most of my time there. There was no hiding the fact that I was really ill. Sleeping became difficult because I had to wake up for a pee so often. In the autumn of the previous year, I’d begun to wet the bed in the night without noticing it. I took to sleeping with a towel round me like a nappy. Soon my ex got me a waterproof mat to lie on. I’d long since stopped getting out of bed to pee. Instead I peed in a plastic bottle.

Unfortunately, the sore places in my back and ribs had got worse too. Turning over or flexing my stomach muscles in any way was excruciatingly painful. I would often spend half an hour willing myself to stand the pain enough to sit up and take a drink. The only comfortable position was lying still on my back. Even that started to hurt after a while as I got ever thinner.

From 16 stone I was now down to well under 12 and still losing weight because my diet was so restricted. The problem was finding things to eat that tasted good. My appetite was poor and the lack of salt in anything made it all so bland and boring. I was still just about mobile enough to make my own food and look after myself but that ability gradually reduced. I came to rely more and more on Sarah’s help. Soon her ex sister in law came up to help too. Another angel!

Another thing I tried in large quantities was Ambrotose, a form of glyco-nutrient that is supposed to have magical powers of rejuvenating cells. It probably does but my PSA continued to rise. I also took to giving myself a coffee enema every morning in two doses. The thinking behind this was that the active detoxifying agents in the coffee bypassed the colon and went straight up to the liver. I learned the interesting fact that all the blood in the body passes through the liver every few (seven?) minutes.

The coffee agents, whose name I’ve forgotten, are supposed to remove the toxins filtered out by the liver. Indeed, when I lay there with the coffee in me, I could feel bubbles gurgling under my ribs. It seemed useful though it was a tricky process tottering unsteadily to the lavatory holding the enema in. There were a few disgusting mistakes along the way. Not a pleasant thought I’m afraid but important to retail as part of this account. My son Will cleared up without a murmur after one episode.

By the end of March I could only walk up stairs one step at a time because my left leg was too weak to lift. As I lay in bed I was either too hot or freezing. I had to have a hot water bottle near my feet most of the time; not touching because that was too painful. The skin on my arms was beginning to hang off the bone. My bum was hollow and empty such that I could have easily passed unnoticed as an inmate in a concentration camp.

My grown up children now regularly came to visit at weekends to see me and help Sarah who was beginning to crack under the strain of being at my beck and call. Looking back I can see they were also gathering for the approaching end. The worry was making it very difficult for them to function effectively in their daily lives.

Sarah and I have discussed this period since and it’s obvious that I became a dreadful petty tyrant in my helplessness. It was so frustrating not being able to do things for myself and having to eat food lovingly prepared but so tasteless it killed my appetite and was greeted with constant complaints. Demanding, intolerant, ungrateful, the words Sarah and I agreed on to describe me at that time are not ones I’m proud to be associated with but I offer exhaustion and pain as my feeble excuses. Certainly I reduced Sarah to a near nervous breakdown.

So it was that I entered the final stages. The district nurse turned up at my daughter’s request, took one look and started talking about Macmillan nurses and hospices. She talked with Sarah and my kids. Things were closing in. I must confess I was totally absorbed in the process of trying to find answers and survive the sheer struggle of moving and eating. I was now permanently attached at night to a catheter that fitted on my penis via a sheath. I had little sensation of piddling at night but did so much of the time. My weight was down to about 11stone, a drop of 70 lbs or more. Nothing I was doing had any effect on my PSA. It was now over 1700.

One day, I received an email from Hank, a kiwi mate of mine living in Italy. He’d been surfing the net wondering how to help me and come up with the name Callebout, a Harley Street doctor who had cured someone of breast cancer using alternative and conventional methods and also had success with prostate cancer. For a week I did nothing about it because I was too weak and Harley Street sounded beyond my finances.

But then I decided I was so ill I needed any help I could get regardless of cost and gave the number a call. His secretary made me an appointment for a couple of weeks later. Somehow I had to get up to London and stay the night. My son and daughter were going to accompany me.

At about this time too I had a strange experience in the dead of night. I was wondering whether to get in touch with a chap I’d known 12 years before who was a healer. I’d just looked up his website to check that it was still active. As I closed the lid on the laptop and lay back eyes closed I suddenly saw a short film playing in my head. I was sitting on a horse stripped to the waist with several others galloping around me. We were American Indians. As I watched, one of the braves drew back his bow and loosed an arrow straight into my prostate where it stayed.

I neither believe nor disbelieve in the past life memory business, but when you’re dying any help is welcome. Perhaps my subconscious was giving me some clue to focus on at last. So I did. For several days I remembered the vision and imagined snapping off the head and pulling the shaft of the arrow back out and letting the prostate mend.

The visit to Dr Callebout was a great success. His first statement was that cancer is not a terminal disease and any doctor who says it is, is not entitled to do so. This was more like it! Just what a man with a PSA of nearly 2,000 needs to hear. No need to fight him off as I’d had to do with all the other consultants I’d come across so far. He listened to my tale at length, examined me (he did not stick his finger up my bum) and commented that I looked anaemic. He asked what I fancied eating and I said meat but I’d heard it fed the cancer. Not a bit of it. As long as it was organic, and New Zealand lamb was, it would do me good. Also salt, not deadly and sea salt even contained useful elements. Only milk was forbidden. He said he’d send me a list of nutrients to take in due course. He didn’t explain what any of the nutrients did but I was in no shape to be curious at that stage.

I limped back to the car feeling a surge of hope, as no doubt my son and daughter did too. Back in Exeter I ate a lot of lamb. Couldn’t get enough of it. I ate organic steak too from a local butcher that was attached to an organic farm. Food with sea salt on became palatable. I started to put on weight.

In the couple of weeks before his first regime arrived I was visited by my GP. He took one look and gave me a couple of months to live. When I asked him what the world record PSA was he told me it was no time for jokes. The district nurse told Sarah in confidence that I was a very selfish man to have put her through what I had. Better to die quietly perhaps??

I sent several blood samples and a urine sample off for detailed analysis to labs recommended by Dr Callebout. He wanted to know exactly what was wrong with my system before settling on a final regime. The tests cost over £2000 but I now had a man with a plan to cure me rather than prolong my life for a year or two.

The regime arrived and I ordered the main pills a few days later. Some of them cost £1 each and I was taking up to 12 a day of several. Just as I started the regime I had a PSA test. On the 7th May it stood at 3,730. What they say about doubling every month was now happening.

Towards the end of May I followed a suggestion of my daughter Anna and called a kinesiologist called Elizabeth Brown. She had helped a friend of a friend of Anna’s with cancer. We had a very interesting three-hour phone conversation during which she dowsed for various things about my illness and general purpose in life. One important thing that came up was that the house I was living in was situated above a water course, which was exposing me to very unhelpful energy. I had never heard of this but it seems that energy emerging from the earth can have a powerful effect especially when you lie still asleep at night. She fixed this problem by remote working and said that my son’s place was OK in case I moved there.

She also said that my body was not absorbing the nutrients that I was pumping in and my immune system was very depleted. From then on she sent me a list of readings every week or so for several months and still does so whenever I feel like a check-up. She recommended a course of homeopathic remedies from a colleague of hers, Sarah Patrick, which I embarked upon as soon as possible.

One final topic that came up was that of my purpose in life. Apparently I had a clear purpose to help mankind but needed to wake up and pay more attention to my guides. This whole area of guides and guardian angels has always been a bit vague to me. I was born to non-religious parents with a father who actively despised the Catholic faith of his Irish mother. I have never regarded myself as psychic or gifted in that area but one or two events in my life have made it abundantly clear to me that there is much more going on than meets the eye, especially the scientific, sceptical eye.

There was a time when I became involved in healing and turned out to be able to help people quite easily. I let it pass because, as mentioned before, I always felt the need to help people get to the root of a problem rather than remove a symptom. It seemed to me that people needed to remedy their ignorance rather than have their messengers attacked or eliminated. You could say that this is exactly what I’ve been engaged in in my recent situation.

As time has gone on and I’ve returned to health, it has become more and more clear to me that my period of dire illness was a watershed in my life. I feel as if I have been refurbished and retuned for what’s required now and henceforth. My sexuality has been toned down a good bit and my awareness turned up. I’ve been having a refit and may now be in the process of returning to the healing arena but with a greater sense of empathy and compassion. To put it simply, I get the feeling that nearly dying was in fact very good for me and in particular, did my heart good. It brought me so much closer to my children and softened my heart to the point where I cried very often at their kindness to me. I also had tearful and possibly healing moments with Sarah.

At any rate, for anyone who is interested in esoteric healing matters I’d recommend they get in touch with Elizabeth; a very interesting woman.

After ten days on Dr Callebout’s regime my PSA had dropped to 1777. At last something was working and that something was mainly a nutrient pill called Prostasol. Callebout had said the most important thing was to crush the PSA and this mixture of plant sterols and prostate nutrients did just that at high speed. But despite being in better spirits, I was still in very bad shape physically with no let up as yet in any of the symptoms and no let up for Sarah.

It was now decided that the only way to save Sarah from a breakdown was for me to move to London to stay with my son, where I’d have to use the local services to look after me if I couldn’t look after myself. I’d end up in a hospice if that was what it eventually came to. Before leaving for London at the end of May I had a blood transfusion, staying overnight, ironically enough, in a local hospice. My blood count was 5.4 when it should have been over 12. They also took blood for another PSA and lo and behold it had dropped to 113. Nearly 4,000 to just over 100 in 35 days. Amazing.

Once in London I signed on at the Charing Cross and saw the consultant there. He took one look and suggested I stopped wasting my money on alternative stuff that doesn’t work and spend quality time with my family. Another narrow minded scientist. I’m sorry but as far as I’m concerned, people like that need a good shaking. I have used a lot of energy explaining to them that they have no right to dismiss what they don’t know anything about and, much more importantly, they have no right to go around from their position of authority condemning people to death. I asked to change to a different consultant and was seen by a woman who has been much more supportive and willing to let me decide what’s in my best interest.

I spent up to £3000 a month on nutrient pills for the first few months but my PSA fell to about 5 by Christmas and I put on all the weight I’d lost. I had one or two crises when my urinary system went into some kind of healing agony. This resulted in a couple of trips to A&E where I had my bum poked again by a couple of young doctors and a catheter inserted in my penis to drain the residual urine out of my bladder. I urge people to avoid having this done at all costs unless it’s vital because it’s one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences I’ve ever had. Those episodes passed with no need for any drugs as, after tests, it turned out that I didn’t have the infection they assumed I had.

For several weeks I had various aches and pains in my knees and hips. I also found it difficult to get about at first because of my wonky left leg and general weakness in both legs. Going shopping and carrying bags was particularly hard work.

Now confident that I had the strength to withstand radiation and such, I had more bone scans and ultrasound scans to check out the kidneys and ureters. There was some damage but it was going away. Thickening of the bladder wall came and went.

One morning when I sat up in bed my back went out and I was in agony for several minutes until I managed to get upright. It has taken nearly a year to get back to stiffness rather than agony. At the last bone scan there were no hotspots and they only commented on some shading in all the bones, leftovers of where the cancer had been as I choose to assume. My legs have regained most of the strength they lost though the left leg is still noticeably weaker than the right. I can run upstairs again.

Following a financial crisis last February I cut the amount of prostasol I was taking quite suddenly to 4 a day from 9 and the PSA went up from 4 to 20 in a month. When I put the dose back up it came down again and in recent months it’s been steady at about 2 while I’ve reduced the prostasol from 9 to 4 a day. The great merit of prostasol is that the plant sterols it contains do not lose effectiveness over time and indeed work on reducing doses. That seems to be the case with me. I am assured by Dr C that they are not steroids as one of my consultants declared, nor are they synthetically oestrogen based.

It seems that the basic drift of Callebout’s approach is to use Prostasol to crush the PSA, Biobran and others to support the immune system, enzymes (mostly lamb pancreas and thymus) to boost the digestive system and take the strain off the immune system. I’m also taking all the various mixtures of the well known prostate support nutrients, anti oxidants like curcumin, and lots of vitamin D3. I stopped taking spoonfuls of vitamin C and now take one pill of it a day just for fun!

I do not know the working details of the regime and it is tailored to my specific needs so I cannot recommend it to anyone. What I can do, based on my personal experience and current state of well-being, is recommend Dr Callebout. He hasn’t charged me more than £800 so far. My monthly outlay on supplements has reduced from £3000 to about £500 and is still falling.

At the end of March this year I was strong enough to fly to New York to visit my nephew for a week. It was tiring but I still managed to visit MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum and to walk the length of Central Park in rather chilly weather. By the end of May I was swimming in the Med when I spent a week visiting my son in Antibes. Not bad for one year after being written off by the doctors.

As far as my original symptoms are concerned, I now pee once in the night. There is no dribbling at the end of a pee. I can go for hours during the day without even thinking of peeing even though I’m drinking much more. I can break off peeing at any point and suffer no dribbling. In short, my peeing is as normal as it ever was. I have some soreness in the breasts from the prostasol though that is reducing as I cut the number of pills. I haven’t lost my sex drive (though me and the meaning of sex is a whole other issue too important to get into here) and can get a healthy erection even though that is not now my main concern in life.

When people ask me about the whole experience they are surprised when I say that it has been hard work but very beneficial. As previously stated, it has brought me even closer to my children and done a lot to soften my heart. It has also taught me to trust the universe a little more and to pay greater attention to signs and clues. It forced me to stop doing a job that was good but not addressing my core desires. It has moved me to London, which had never struck me as being the most interesting and rewarding place I am discovering it to be. It has also alerted me to the need for people to take their health into their own hands and out of the hands of the medical and pharmaceutical industries. It has also taught me to accept help from others including the state, something I had never done before.

Finally, though it’s far too soon to claim that I have fully recovered from aggressive, advanced, prostate cancer, I can happily say that I’m doing fine and feeling well, with none of the symptoms of the disease apparent at this time. It’s now nearly three years since I was diagnosed and two since the first bone scan showed cancer in my bones. Every new doctor I meet says how well I look but none will ever say that my cancer has gone or express any interest in what steps I may have taken to bring this about.

Doctors are a funny lot, very intelligent and analytical but often blinkered and over confident of their powers. They seem to know a great deal about attacking cancer but little about the causes of it and nothing about the cures. Vast sums of money and many careers are devoted to fighting it but still people die in droves having had bits cut off and been through the hell of poisoning and burning with chemotherapy and radiation. It seems to be that the only clear sign of health that doctors will admit to is that I look well. It may not seem much to show for all those years of medical study but it’s good enough for me!

Next month will be the third anniversary of my first PSA test that told me the level was 26.9 The reading a couple of weeks ago was 1.7. It may soon be time to extend my visa!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Monday Night at St James' Piccadilly

When will I ever learn?

I did my usual trick last night of jumping to conclusions and being completely wrong. I never cease to amaze myself with my lack of perception but fortunately life has its ways of tricking me into doing what's good for me.

Several weeks ago I checked the programme of speakers st St James' and saw something about pilgrimages and immediately decided it wasn't the kind of thing I cared to hear about. You could say it came from my ingrained suspicion of all things to do with piety and religion. And my tendency to generalise and throw out babies and bath water as a result. Oh well!

So how did I end up going to the talk anyway? Well, I was in Wimbledon yesterday evening having coffee with daughter Nell unable to check the St James' programme via the internet. I was not really feeling full of beans and it occurred to me to go straight home but then I thought, well why not just go to whatever talk it was anyway? It's that kind of thought that's interesting. I could so easily have thought, sod it, let's just go home. But for some reason I didn't.

So I caught the overland train to Waterloo and bus up to Piccadilly.

When I got to the Church just before 6.30 the place was still closed and that didn't look promising. No queue outside, no buzz of interest. I went to the Costa next door and had a peppermint tea and started a sudoku.

At 6.50 I strolled in to join a pretty sparse gathering of faithfuls. I like to sit right at the front, not out of keenness but because they have some soft seated rows of chairs there and the pews get me right across the back. So I sat down and carried on my soduko, vaguely aware of a couple of old boys droning on to my left.

Why do people talk so much bollocks? Everywhere you go, cafes, buses, trains, there are people rabbiting on about crap. In the cafe where I'd had my peppermint tea there were a couple of women right next to me wondering earnestly and at length what Venus signified in their chart. I mean, it just makes me sad if I can see by just glancing at them that they would no more be honest in any relationship they were floundering in than strip naked on the tube. The frustration is not being able to lean over and put them straight. On the train home there were a young couple debating what piece of computer game kit to buy. Fair enough but not for ten minutes! People separated from each other by the trivia on their minds. Such a waste of life. It hurts my heart.

Anyway, back to St James'. The one guy to my left is always there and always leaps up to be one of the three to light a candle. He also invariable asks a question at the end that turns out to be a boring trip into his subconscious need to compete for attention. The chap he was speaking to seemed to be his kind of guy so I was feeling even less optimistic when I perceived the evening's speaker across the way. He looked odd, 60ish, very "straight", dressed in yellowish cords, brown shoes, a blue short sleeved cardigan and a cravatte. What on earth was the talk about? I still had no idea as I hadn't stopped to check on the way in. If I had I would probably have turned away and gone home. Funny how life works.

The chap with the mike came out and said the speaker was John Brierley and he was going to talk about pilgrimages. Oh bugger! It would be hard to escape sitting right at the front. Then the one old boy jumped up as per usual to light his candle and we were getting to the bit where you have to chat to someone near you for a couple of minutes. I was scanning around vaguely dreading engaging with one of the old buffers nearby. There was no one else in the row I was in and the chap just behind looked too shy to save me so I gave in and chatted to the old boy I hadn't seen before. He turned out to be a nice enough chap who was understanding when I shared my qualms about the subject that had now been revealed to us by the chap with the mike. He gestured to the sparse gathering. I joked with him about how I might creep out on my belly if it was too boring to bear.

And so John began his talk. Immediately, from the tone of his voice I knew it would be a worthwhile evening. Relaxed and confident but in no way a "professional" speaker on the circuit. He spoke from the heart so obviously that it was a joy. He spoke of his early career and his break at the age of 39. How he'd taken his family off to Findhorn. How he'd agonised before posting his letter of resignation from the job he'd left behind. Clearly a man of principle and brought up in a traditional way and here he was breaking with his upbringing and following his quaking heart. I'd hardly even got started on that path in my early twenties before I could stand it no more but I felt for him. He explained the purpose of pilgrimage without ever referring to religious belief. It was all about having space and time for the inner journey. And there he was, a living example of the effects of that journey well taken.

There was no melodrama, no self inflation. A very simple tale, strewn with incidental gems of observation and delight. He even mentioned that his choice of yellow and blue clothing reflected the colours on the signs indicating the pilgrims' path. So much for my hasty judgement!

When it came to showing us a map of the pilgrim routes he hardly knew how to get his laptop working. It pleased me that I could tell him that he needed to hit any key to wake the thing up. Thanks to his son, he was using powerpoint on his Mac and I'm now getting to the point where thanks to my son Will I even know how to scroll down a page using two fingers together. I knew how he felt.

When he presented from the slides he stood right in my line of sight and I had to ask him to move to the side. Then the lap top went to sleep every few minutes as he dwellt at length on the one slide and needed a click to wake it up. The old boy closest to it seemed unlikely as a helper so I moved into the seat next to the machine and kept it alive. When it came to running through the photos of sights along the various paths I clicked the page down button.

It gave me huge pleasure to help such a kind man. It did my heart good listening to someone who was so appreciative of the people he met, the places he'd visited and the wonder of life. He spoke with a simple clarity that carried immense power and authority. He never once attempted as so many speakers do to capture that which cannot be described in words but it was there present in his very essence. What a lovely man!

In the last ten minutes there was time for a few questions and sure enough, the old buffer to my left rambled on about his own journeys in the Himalayas. By doing so he demonstrated very clearly for us the difference between his heart and that of John Brierley.

At the end he asked us all to join him in blowing out the little candle he'd brought with him and as we did so he was overcome with joy and clasped his hands to his chest. My eyes welled up. There was a man fulfilled in his purpose.

When we finished I was close by so I went straight up to him with tears still in my eyes and thanked him for his talk. I told him the misgivings I'd had and what a joy it had been. Confirmed in my new approach to honesty, with my hand on his chest, I said what a lovely heart he had. It made me feel good to get that feeling off my chest and share it with him. As is our wont, he deflected my praise by saying that it took another good heart to perceive that. I smiled and said I was very happy to be me. He said he was very happy to be himself. We had a memorable moment together.

Later at home I phoned Sarah to share with her the lovely experience I'd had and admitted that such shining humility as shown by John Brierley only revealed my lack of it. Her knowing silence only confirmed the truth of my observation. Humility is not my strong suit.
But my heart seems to be in working order and despite all my efforts I did turn up at the talk.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Well that worked without a hitch.
Does that mean I have an open invitation to rabbit on about anything and everything?

That's the first consideration. I may be a fully paid up part time member of the "Ooh isn't it awful brigade" but I also include people who say that in my list of what's awful.

So the problem is how to say anything at all without being appalled with myself.
Opinions are generally speaking (and generalising is something I do a lot and also find ridiculous) a waste of breath.

I happened to find a copy of the Daily Mail in a bin on the riverfront at Richmond the other day. What an extraordinary pile of crap that contained. "Ooh isn't it awful" gone mad. The Eu, Gordon Brown, rapists, failing education, on and on it went.
Today I read the Independent in a caff there. Well, we might as well all top ourselves now. Global warming, data theft, immigrant abuse, asylum nightmare.

In the meantime some grubby pigeons were trying to grab bits of crumbs off the tray someone had left on my table. It reminded me of the seagull that swooped down and nicked the ice cream cone I was eating as I was leaning on a wall looking out at the sea shore from St Michael's Mount. No respect at all.

So this shows that I can rabbit on but it's getting nowhere so I'll see if I can post a link to an article I read yesterday morning on one of my favourite news site, NHNE.com.


It's long but highly instructive about the feudalistic and brutal regime before the Chinese invaded Tibet. Incredibly to me, it describes how the CIA funded and used the exiled monks
to try to undermine Chinese communist rule.

It certainly made me see the Dalai Llama in a slightly different light even though he personally seems to be one of the good guys. Buddhism itself when not abused by an elite doesn't seem as bad as most forms of Islam and Christianity.
The Tibetan version though was apparently a load of mumbo jumbo designed to keep the peasants in penury and slavery. Have a read and see what you think.

Now to see if the link posts OK.....

Monday, 19 November 2007

Nell has just set this up. Thanks Nell