The Best Possible Chance

“I immediately felt I was in safe, very well informed hands.”

In October 2012, at age 31, I discovered a small, hard lump above my collarbone. A search on Dr. Google shook me – lung cancer seemed to be the unanimous verdict. My family doctor was not overly concerned, after all, I was a young, gym obsessed never-smoker with no symptoms. An ultrasound resulted in a ‘wait and see’ recommendation, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Two days later, the biopsy I had pushed for revealed my worst fears… at 31, I was facing a diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer. The first oncologist I saw gave me a two year life expectancy but did refer us for a second opinion, at the Peter MacCallum Cancer centre in Melbourne.

From that point on, things moved very fast. My wonderful parents, husband and baby boy uprooted their lives and moved to Melbourne where we stayed for 14 weeks. At the best cancer centre in Australia, curative treatment suddenly became possible under the direction of one of the top radiation oncologists in the world. Treatment was very harsh, 6 weeks of daily radiotherapy and two rounds of chemotherapy; I was warned I would become very sick, and would probably need to be hospitalised. Whilst I never questioned this regime, I quickly realised I needed to do something to help myself heal after treatment, and to take control of my future health.

Living Valley Springs had been recommended to me just after diagnosis. The combination of health retreat and expert naturopathic advice was exactly what I was looking for, and before starting treatment I booked my 15 day stay.

The treatment was as harsh as promised, and I ended up in hospital for 2 1/2 weeks. By the time I was strong enough to go to LVS I was still unable to swallow anything other than liquids, and reliant on pain relief. Despite my obvious limitations, the staff at LVS were happy to accommodate me for the first taste of normality I had experienced in a long time. The treatments sounded wonderful – massage, clay wraps, facials – although the colonics had me a little concerned! At my first consultation with Toby, my naturopath, I immediately felt I was in safe, very well informed hands.

Over the following ten days my body began to heal on a diet of green juices and detoxification shakes that didn’t stress my burnt oesophagus, supplements to aid regeneration, and beautiful treatments in a gorgeous hillside setting. Even the colonics left me feeling wonderful. The staff at LVS were so friendly and both Toby and Gary were mines of information, giving me the confidence I needed in my body’s ability to overcome cancer. The schedule of talks reinforced this, and provided the tools I needed to create a wholesale lifestyle change.

By day 10, I was much stronger, able to eat the delicious food that I could previously only look at, and ready to devise a supplementation regime that would help me keep cancer at bay. With Toby’s expertise, we developed a detailed diet and supplementation plan I still follow today. I left LVS a far cry from the sick, in pain person I had been when I arrived. While I didn’t get to climb the mountain with the rest of the group, I will definitely be back to make it to the top! As a postscript to this story, I have recently returned from my regular surveillance scan in Melbourne. My first follow up scan, at three months, showed no evidence of disease, and now, thirteen months after treatment, my scan remains clear – there is still no evidence of disease. With the knowledge I gained at LVS I have the best possible chance of a cancer free future, an invaluable gift for me and my family.