Every individual's journey is a journey within - this one just might make you reconsider everything. In the summer of 2011, Mike walked into our lives having being diagnosed with late stage 3/stage 4 colon cancer. He found himself facing the same questions we had been asking ourselves: What if food is the most potent medicine? What if I can provide my body with the building blocks to heal itself? What if making a few changes about the way I think about cancer will save my life? Read what he found out here:
Ahh, so Mike, thanks so much for sharing your incredible story with our community. Our readers, I'm sure, would love to know how you started with OrganicLives:
I ended up at OrganicLives through a recommendation from one of my good friends and trainer. They suggested I check the place out and I guess I was willing to because I had at that point undergone about 9 or 10 months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. I had a very large grapefruit size tumour that was initially removed and then about 9 or 10 months of chemo. By the end of all that we were back at a ping pong ball size tumour newly developed in the same area.
I had made certain lifestyle changes post diagnosis and chemo, like how much work I was doing and you know, cutting back on alcohol and coffee. But I hadn't really changed my eating habits. Food always served as a reward for me. After a long day of work, it was my time to relax and enjoy.
I tended to be a guy who went out a lot. I ate at a lot of restaurants. I ate better than the standard meat & potatoes diet, with less processed food and more fish/vegetables, but you never know what a chef puts into the food at a restaurant or no, you actually do know, lots of salt and butter.
Preet calls you his 'guinea pig' for developing the OrganicLives Health Plan. Can you share with us how this all came to be?
Well for me to do the kind of diet that Preet was talking about in order to deal with my cancer, I was extremely unlikely to do it for myself. I was unlikely to cook for myself before, never mind cook the way Preet wanted me to. It looked like a 6 hour a day job to me! I knew I wouldn't have the patience for it and I knew I wouldn't be able to come in every day. So I said, "I'm willing to change something very fundamental but it has to work for me."
And Preet said, "Well, how 'bout if we send the food to your house every day?" I knew the rules about the food needing to be absolutely fresh and clean, and I had some faith in the quality and taste of the food, so it gave me some confidence to actually make a go of it.
So when you first went on to the OrganicLives Health Plan, what did it consist of?
It was two bottles of green juice - an alkalizer and a deep cleanse. A large coconut water and two meals from a reduced section of the OrganicLives menu - some salad or pizza or whatever. If something didn't suit my taste, we dropped it away and added others. I would say for four months I was almost perfect with eating only from the food plan. If I went away, I brought my juicer with me and I would take the raw materials.
So, how did it initially go?
I almost immediately started feeling better. Pooing becomes a whole new experience, *laughs*. Chemo makes you feel stupid and sluggish. You don't have energy or ambition for much of anything. For me, chemo felt worse than what it felt like to have cancer. Eating this way, allowed me to feel like I could recover some of myself. I never felt like I didn't have enough food. In fact, I felt like I had too much food. You can only drink so many salads in a day. Once I got into the pattern I found it quite easy.
If you care about what things taste like, the food they make here is extremely carefully and thoughtfully prepared. It can take getting used to, and I wasn't a cheeseburger eater - I would have been more interested in a beautiful piece of fish or asian dish - but mostly I liked food that was really well prepared. That's how the food is here. They care about flavour and they care about how things go together. But I certainly had to alter my palette.
So alongside your involvement at OrganicLives, what else was going on medically?
In about June 2011, my doctors and I decided to go to a different chemotherapy (with a different chemical makeup) to potentially be more effective. It was at this time I went onto the food plan. The most dramatic part about it was losing 35 lbs within 3 months.
During this time, I was exercising regularly even though the new chemo was really taking it out of me. I still wanted to do my best to keep at it. I was on a two week cycle for the chemo. After the first week, you sort of feel like a truck has hit you, the second week you start to feel better, then just as you start to rise to the surface you start again - with each cycle getting progressively worse. My first round of chemo was 6-7 months, and this round was definitely harder.
But by September, I had lost all this weight, and then when we had the next PET Scan the concentration of the tumour was gone, and all that was left was filaments and areas of cellular metabolic activity indicating active cancer cells. My doctors were awfully surprised about that, and extremely pleased. From the most recent picture in December, that area has diminished again. I'm currently on a break from chemo, a decision made by me and my doctors, and I feel better and better every week.
That is incredible story Mike. Can you believe it?
Well, when you live through it, it doesn't look particularly special. You're just trying to take care of yourself. I started doing some different reading about cancer and I realized that I was going to change the framework from "a fight with cancer" to "trying to return my body to a healthy balance which would allow my body to heal itself." Cancer is a part of your body, if you are in a fight with cancer, you are in a fight with yourself in some ways.
I really changed my diet, I started exercising, I reduced my stress and my workload - I went from very little to nothing, I tried to make a big improvement in my mental/emotional health and well being, but quite frankly I think that diet was what made the most radical change. The last thing that food was for me was nourishment. It was a celebration, a social thing, a reward, and I loved great food. It's not that I don't love food anymore, but I had to let some of that go.
What about family? How did this affect them?
It's been a horrible journey for my family, I'm sure. I was told that I was taking the most intense chemo available at that time, and most people who go through that get hit pretty hard physically, but I didn't. Even after the first cycle, I never really looked like I was sick and I was balding but hair loss didn't look like a big deal. I tried to just keep living my life without making too many large changes. I'd say that was a mistake, now. I should have gotten the message the first time.
But I'd say the gift of what's happening with OrganicLives, and some other things I'm doing, is to give my family some hope. The doctor's said it was a technicality to call me a late Stage 3, so really I was Stage 4 Colon Cancer. That was a year and three quarters ago.
So what's next for you?
They don't ever change that diagnosis but I have the potential, at least, to be on my way to remission. I'm not yet as there is still significant activity in that area but I'm on my way.
If you or someone you know has cancer and is interested in making some radical food and lifestyle changes, we are here to provide you with the tools for revolution. Whether you join a class at our Education Center or book a consultation to join our Health Plan, our team will be with you every step of the way. Stories like Mike's are great tools to provide examples of tangible hope and success, so please feel free to share this story with the ones you love.