As the health care professional, I have worked as the end stage professional health carer for many over the past three decades in AIDS and cancer, and I am well aware we have not yet covered on this forum what stage of ‘cancer’ the ‘patient’ is at.

What if there is nothing the doctor can advise – where does CAM fit then?

If we look to the ‘terminals’, as I usually see people, the situation is very different and it is then finally about quality of life.  No longer bargaining, or making choices, but purely hanging on in desperation.  If this is the result in these cases, what more could be done if a holistic approach was the centre of attention initially?


25 years ago I was privileged to work with a newborn who was dying of untreatable leukaemia, and after 8 weeks nearly had her in remission when the medical profession stepped in.

How did her parents find me?

Her dad worked with my husband.  No research needed – desperation and opportunity came together.
I pulled together a team who were under my direction and we all played crucial parts.

Dad brought her to see me twice a day and sometimes besides her needles or moxa, and tui na (specific paediatric massage), it was all about empowering him to be her advocate. When she almost bled out I became her advocate when he gave up.

  • What message are we here for – and what part does an apparent catastrophe really play in life?
  • Can we research the journey we may need and make choices from a safe distance?

When her parents accepted her impending demise, she rallied past impossible odds and came back.

No help from any medical professional past asking did they want to take her home to die, or leave her in hospital? No options past a caring known CAM provider.

Once she was stable, she was to be taken away from dad if he did not agree to the chemo that the initial oncologist said would destroy her brain if they used it – and they won’t as she was about to die.

Once she was well enough, and another doctor was on, if dad did not agree, his guardianship would be revoked and the hospital would step in as she was being endangered by NOT having the chemo suddenly they could offer!

  • I was to stop meddling and chemo through her heart was started.
  • No collaboration.
  • No harm was done with what was CAM and her second chance at life.


‘P’, given less than a year to live, after all the chemo available.

He is not just going to a CAM professional (me) so much but is now living a “CAM (life affirming) lifestyle”.

  • Dr Ruth Cilento’s important characteristics of a survivor are his new life.
  • He is now saying what he thinks.
  • He is juicing.
  • All food intake is nutritious.
  • He is taking all the de-toxins and the remedies.
  • He is living happy.
  • He went with his daughter (my original patient from years ago) to a life affirming cancer retreat.

He went back to the oncologist yesterday who told him there was nothing he could do – but take the drugs offered, and will get another two months more at most in life. (this is so far 9 months ago)

“Take a script for more fluid tablets as he will blow up like a balloon, and the only drug to give him will cause the skin will come off his hands.”

The oncologist did not seem to notice ‘P’ had already lost six centimetres off his belly and is no longer dragging himself about and looking yellow (he has advanced liver cancer).

‘P’ feels wonderful as he is living more than he ever did in each day – making each one count and eating to live.

What advice about living well did he get from his oncologist?

No tips on living longer, happier or well.

  • How could he go forwards without assistance?
  • Why has his daughter brought him to me?

Her trust in my integrity and problem solving skills. Many CAM providers are like signposts – if we can’t help – we refer on – and try to integrate all aspects of all health care.

However can we do research to ‘prove’ what we do?

We are all living unique lives.

This is why I spent some time initially introducing the idea of diet –

  • why is basic physiology being well cared for seen as CAM?
  • What about toxic emotions/lives causing the cancer and us needing to stop to let some of it out?


I chanced upon a woman in Christchurch two years ago who was up from elsewhere to lie on a negative ion bed that she had heard about from someone at the Wanaka Gawler retreat programme.

Chemo was not an option for her as she was ‘too far gone’ when her colon cancer was discovered.

She found me with apparently only three days to live in hospital.
I took her away, brought her to my clinic (never met her before but reasoned if I was in a strange city and knew no one – what would I want someone to do?).
Once she was stabilised, and poohing again (all blocked up), she had another 3 ½ weeks – time to heal.

She died in a state of peace that she would not have had had she been left as a pot plant in a side room knowing no-one in the hospital. Who she was and what her needs were was not part of their ‘care’.

This is what people seek when desperate – respite also possibly from making decisions about what to do – she trusted a healer (me) she knew nothing about and had laid on a hospice like experience – though she funded it herself. No research found me – she lucked in.  Life is also like this for others.

  • Beyond the juices (although she now had them);
  • beyond the stunning detoxing products I access in addition to the extra nutrients (Vit C hourly and Magnesium powder 6 x daily and as well as the castor oil packs to assist the bowel movement and the cancer pain – she had been on morphine – which was not helping the obstructed bowel);
  • not just the Reiki and Shiatsu;
  • not only the nourishing food laid on, and not the extra helpers I had sourced so she could face herself on other levels;
  • not the talking through enough to accept her partner to come to be with her instead of being banned to watch her die –

but because of the entire package.

How to research humane dying?

Perhaps having something to live for – exploring more of who she was within – helped delay the inevitable.  Without all the bits of the package assembled, I doubt she would have been so morphine free as she went through cachexia and as we watched the ragged masses almost leap out of her belly.

It no longer mattered. All because she could finally see that she was not ‘losing’ to die of cancer, but losing if she did not see the gift of the cancer – possibly the point of her life.

Till then she was so busy fighting she had not heard the cancer’s message.  She finally ‘got’ what she missed and what the Gawler people would have reinforced.
She had been so focused on what was to go in her mouth, she missed the emotional and the spiritual.

Finally she was a captive audience and the healing of her soul was then possible.

‘K’ had no chemo option, as she was ‘too far gone’ at diagnosis.
No mention of what she may have been able to pull together as a quality of life left option at the end.
What then?
Even as she was dying she was upset at her friends who could not understand that there WAS no hope for her and that she had not been throwing her life away by doing CAM – she had no other options to take.

She had chosen the Gawler process.
She detoxed; bicarbonated; spent all her time swallowing substances, every and any thing she could find – but the one that may have made all the difference – going inwards, not seeking ‘quick fixes’.

Sometimes that is all that there is left.  The extra 3 ½ weeks ‘K’ lived allowed her to face her past, her bitterness and her sense of a wasted life.
They allowed her to accept the love that she had shut out and allowed her to find an soft, vulnerable inner ‘K’ that she had never acknowledged.
Whatever it takes, we could say, before we pay attention.

A life not wasted. But redeemed in the last few moments.

She cried, she raged, she became real. She found peace. Petrea King has a lovely piece on this .
Many have heard of Ian Gawler – not many of Petrea King.

It is very easy to see CAM as a retail experience, populated by the unregulated unknowns.

I see CAM as a shift to honesty, respect and nature.

What role can cancer play?

As Petrea King says about the ‘D’s’ in life – wonderful/awful/terrible/fabulous place.

What role/message can cancer impart?

We all have wounds, are heart broken, feel not good enough and hide behind shells/barriers.
At the point where there is a very small window of time left, the learning sometimes happens
– and ‘K’ was open enough/empty of any other option but to allow it.

We can’t quantify heart and soul. I suspect there is no research possible on soul scripting and (self) forgiveness/ (self) acceptance.

  • What research can approximate life – when nothing here ever happens in isolation?
  • When we can’t hold all variables steady – why not use common sense, or trial and error, or pure instinct?
  • When all are on an unique path?

Possibly here is where we step outside the science and look for reasons for why we are here.

Reacting in fear without knowing what cancer is, and what it is there for, may lead to more of the same, if it is removed without conscious awareness.

Perhaps it may be time to wonder what medicine is really about.

Why try to save a person from themselves?


  • Cilento, Dr Ruth: *Heal Cancer: Choose Your Own Survival Path
  • Cilento Dr.Ruth  ISBN: 0855722134 Hill of Content Pub Co Pty Ltd Melbourne 1997 Reprint