This article was originally published in True Natural Health Winter 2022 magazine. Subscribers are posted 4 editions of the magazine annually, you can find out more, join, or renew here or go to the ‘join us’ tab on our home page.
About the author: Dr Greg Fizgerald (Allied Health) is the Principal of Health For Life
When United States President Nixon declared ‘war on cancer’ in 1971, he promised to find the cure within 10 years, believing that if man could land on the moon, he surely could beat cancer.
Fastrack to today, and despite limited success in less common cancers like lymphoma and some childhood cancers like leukemia, cancer still cuts a swathe through the population, and now ranks ahead of heart disease as the number one killer in many countries.
While research has been focused on stronger and more targeted treatments, little medical research has ever been conducted on those who do survive and thrive against cancer, despite a terminal prognosis.
In Australia, two of the most well-known survivors of terminal cancer are Dr Ian Gawler and Petrea King. As with other ‘radical remissions’, the medical fraternity has not been particularly interested in the modus operandi of their recoveries. Their lifestyles and behaviours have been of little interest to the medical community.
Such medical disinterest prompted Dr Kelly Turner, a PhD graduate of Harvard University, Boston, to write: “I was surprised how little research was being done by the medical community on long-term cancer survivors”. Dr Turner spent one year travelling through 10 countries interviewing many holistic therapists and studying over 1000 cancer survivors who defied the odds and survived a terminal prognosis. In-depth personal interviews were conducted with hundreds of survivors. This culminated in her book: Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.
Her study involved people with cancer who either had shunned conventional treatment altogether (no chemo, radiation or surgery) or who had tried conventional treatment but had decided to stop, either because they were told nothing more could be done, or because the side effects were so unbearable. During her research, she identified 76 healing factors that patients used to help heal themselves. These were outside conventional cancer treatments. Of these, 9 stood out as common denominators amongst all survivors. Turner states: “Many of these patients had healed without Western medical treatment or, following its failure, they used other therapies to extend their survival”.
The Nine Factors
1) They all adopted radical dietary changes.
Many became vegans or vegetarians. All increased plant-based foods, most eschewed alcohol and all ceased smoking. Almost all decided to omit meat, wheat, sweets and dairy. They all dramatically increased their intake of fresh vegetables and fruit.
This starkly contrasts orthodox dietary recommendations given to cancer patients undergoing treatment, who are encouraged to eat high-calorie foods like ice cream, milkshakes and biscuits to gain weight.
2) They took more control of their health than ever before and became strong activists in their food choices, treatments and behaviours.
3) All followed their intuition more closely than ever.
Intuition is the ‘tuition within’ and is not encouraged medically, as it is deemed not science-or-evidence-based. All those studied said they had re-learned to trust themselves, and then take responsibility for the consequences of that trust and intuition.
4) Almost all took some form of nutritional supplementation.
This ranged from pro- and pre-biotics, vitamins, minerals, herbs, food extracts and various food concentrates like fresh raw juices. Each person had a unique approach which was most often guided by a health-care practitioner conversant with nutrition who was not an oncologist, doctor or hospital dietician. No one thing was taken by the group. Their supplements varied widely.
5) All gave attention to releasing suppressed emotions.
They adopted the attitude it’s ‘free to be me’ and worked at not suppressing any emotions. Again, the methods used varied widely. Some resorted to hypnotherapy, counselling, psychotherapy, group meetings, workshops, courses and reading relevant books.
6) Without exception they all made a conscious effort to increase positive emotions.
This does not mean these people had no negative emotions, on the contrary. However, they were all mindful that their responses to certain events or situations remained their choice, and they consciously sought to increase positive emotions like love, laughter, warmth, forgiveness, joy, appreciation, gratitude and compassion.
7) Every radical remission was achieved in the context of much social support.
From loved ones including immediate and extended family, to friends and colleagues, to support groups and professionals, social support was repeatedly stated to play a leading role in their recoveries. This was one of the most heavily emphasised points made by all interviewees.
8) Without fail, they all were engaged in deepening their spiritual connections.
This also varied widely. Commonly it involved meditation and prayer. Often it involved a deeper connection to nature and a greater and more deep appreciation of the natural world. Whether the person followed a conventional religion or simply felt a resurgent connection to nature, it did not matter. All felt a connection to something more powerful than them. This connection to a greater force or energy was viewed as just as important as any other key factor engaged in.
9) Everyone had a strong reason to live. A purpose.
This transcended just a personal desire to keep going. Again, reasons and purpose were uniquely individual. This backed up what Dr Viktor Frankl stated in his iconic book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he noticed as a captive during World War Two that prisoners in Auschwitz concentration camp died quickly if they lost their reason to live. It did not matter what that meaning was, but he did note that the survivors, like him, all had strong reasons to wake up each day. He often quoted Friedrich Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”.
The Term Itself
Dr Kelly called the recoveries ‘radical remission’ and not the medically used term ‘spontaneous remission’ because the latter term implies the healing was instant, like a miracle that just happened without reason. It implies luck or chance, whereas radical remission was not instant, but a process involving conscious change over time. They all said it was hard work and not luck that made the difference.
It involved a central focus to live differently than previously to actively engage in their healing physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
It involved taking up new ideas and releasing some old ways. Taking up and giving up. The adage was appropriate to all of them: if you want to go up, you have to give up!
In essence, the radical remissions were preceded by radical change!
After personally interviewing over 200 radical remission cases and studying over 1000, Dr Kelly stated that for every published radical remission case (published in medical journals) there were over 100 unpublished cases, which no one ever gets to hear about.
Dr Kelly heard repeatedly from those she interviewed that this was the first time any medical person had shown the slightest interest in what they had personally done to defy the odds and survive terminal cancer. No doctors, oncologists or dietitians enquired about what they did that could have led to such remarkable remissions.
This did not surprise her as it was the main reason that she commenced this study. Her thoughts were that everyone would be better off if clues could be picked up as to why such people recovered, to more wisely inform other patients in future.
Having said that, Dr Kelly emphasises that her study does not mean that these nine factors will cure cancer or that people should reject conventional treatment. She makes the point strongly that each case is unique and that there is no cookie-cutter approach to manifesting radical remission. There are indeed no guarantees, something all the survivors appreciated.
Such conventional disinterest in radical remissions has been my experience for 36 years, not just in cancer but in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, asthma and many others. One 67-year-old patient who fully recovered from type two diabetes, asthma, hypertension, crippling arthritis and severe migraines went back to her doctor to show him the transformation, thinking he would embrace her recovery and be thrilled, with many questions. She was gutted when he indignantly told her she had been conned and that he could no longer see her as a patient.
What a lost opportunity to help mankind!
A Wider Relevance
The original study was confined to terminal cancer patients, but over time it became obvious to Dr Kelly that the nine factors could be extrapolated to include recovery from any disease, and in fact, include otherwise healthy people with no diagnosed disease.
She now trains other doctors to help people implement the nine factors.
Incidentally, Petrea King (Quest for Life) has been using these same nine factors for decades, with outstanding success.
The nine factors are indeed relevant to all people because they remove the causes of disease and illness and provide the conditions for health, the two most important tenets of natural hygiene/ natural health.
Individually and collectively, the nine factors improve general health and therefore improve the chances of improvement or recovery in all illnesses.
And wonderfully, there are no adverse side effects.
If you know anyone experiencing cancer or any major illness, please share this with them. You never know who it could help.
Dr Kelly Turner: Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds 2014.
Paul Kraus Editor: Surviving Cancer: Inspiring Stories of Hope and Healing from the Gawler Foundation 2008.
Dr Ian Gawler’s blog: Out On A Limb
Petrea King: Up Until Now, 2017.
Ralph Moss: The Cancer Syndrome, 1980.