Written by Natalie Deumayne
Illustrated by Katie Rhian
I come to write this article for two reasons.
One: I’m on a mission now. Starting with adding my voice to the growing number of people who already know just how effective diet and cannabis are against cancer. 1 out of every 2 people will get diagnosed with some form of the disease. I don’t want any of them to give up or be given up on if they are told that the standard treatment hasn’t worked. I want these people to know that there is another option.
Two: I want to explain how I can see my own circumstances in such a positive light, in the hope that I can show others how to do the same. To help remove a little of the fear that overwhelms us after getting a cancer diagnosis.
To do all this, however, I will need to go back just over a year, to June 2018.
It was not quite the beginning of my cancer journey, but it was the day that the word was first used in reference to me. The GP informed me that an MRI scan I’d had three days prior had revealed a growth in my brain. A tumour.
He couldn’t say whether it was cancerous or not. What he could say was that there seemed to be a lot of swelling which explained my constant sinus issues, why I’d been getting headaches every afternoon for months and why I’d stuck the family car through a hedge and completely written it off a few weeks earlier.
My case was then passed on to the experts at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
As it turned out, brain tumours don’t get much more serious than the one they’d found in my head. The consultant I saw at the QE confirmed that it was indeed aggressively cancerous, Stage 3 and showing signs of being Stage 4. And all that swelling the GP mentioned? That was all tumour.
A biopsy a few weeks later confirmed this and my file read ‘inoperable’ and ‘incurable’. The plan was to stabilise it, prevent any further growth. That was the best-case scenario. By the end of August, I was in the Oncology department at Wolverhampton Hospital, starting a 6-week course of radiotherapy every weekday and chemotherapy pills called Temozolomide every day.
An MRI scan in February 2019 revealed that both treatments had been utterly ineffectual. The tumour had grown and was now fully Stage 4, a Glioblastoma. A name so feared, they almost whisper it.
“My file read ‘inoperable’ and ‘incurable’.”Natalie
My case was sent back to the QE and eventually it was decided that my oncologist at Wolverhampton should try the next standard brain tumour treatment, ready for if and when Temozolomide and radiotherapy hadn’t worked.
This next option was a triple ‘treat’ known as PCV; combining three types of chemotherapy. An intravenous drip on the first day, followed by 10 days of an assortment of pills. So many pills, in fact, that if you’d shaken me, I’m sure I would have rattled. Each round lasted 6 weeks, but by the time it came to the second one, everything had changed.
Following a lot of research, a revelatory book I will come back to, conversations with my parents, friends and a certain friend of a friend who has a brain tumour, I officially decided to press pause on the usual cancer treatment.
Instead, I was going to go out on an alternative, natural and altogether more holistic limb – the two main things being a special anti-cancer diet and Cannabis.
At this point, I had almost no symptoms despite the tumour being Stage 4, so my parents and I felt it was worth trying this now whilst I was still able.
It is my body, thus entirely my choice to make but it could not have been clearer that the oncologist and her nurse thought the decision was absolutely raving mad.
Not to mention the fact that I was going to be paying for this myself when the tried and tested treatment was free on the NHS. My choice felt momentous, terrifying and yet simultaneously, easy. Turns out, it was a great idea. It’s currently saving my life.
“I pay for my nature-based treatment but it’s worth every penny. It’s currently saving my life.”Natalie
This incurable, inoperable, the-best-we-can-hope-for-is-to-stop-it-growing-any-more Glioblastoma of mine had reduced in mass by around half just 7 weeks after I went ‘off-piste’. Another scan about 9 weeks after that showed it had reduced again by another third. I feel sure it is the combination of the anti-cancer diet and the Cannabis that has made such a significant impact.
I take the Cannabis in the form of an oil, an organic blend consisting of 30% CBD (cannabidiol) oil and 70% Hemp oil. A few drops of which I put under my tongue daily. The anti-cancer diet is taken from Chris Wark and his incredible book, Chris Beat Cancer.
I was given Chris’ book not long after the bad scan results in February and it was the final push I needed to climb back into the ring. The book follows his own journey after diagnosis and each page is crammed with information on the cancer industry, pharmaceutical companies and most importantly for me, scientifically supported research on the arsenal of weapons nature provides to prevent and fight cancer.
It details his exact diet – essentially, consuming as many superfoods as is physically possible, giving your body the power to heal the cancer cells, rather than using radiation to destroy all cells in the hope that it gets rid of the cancerous ones too.
Not seeing another option, I committed fully. I stay away from sugar, dairy and meat. I choke down raw veg juices. I drink bizarre smelling herbal teas and I eat salad more than I’d prefer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard work. The initial food cravings were so intense they were basically hallucinogenic, but they faded with time. The lack of cheese in my life is the real struggle now. Worth it though. Now there isn’t much that could take the beam off my face or remove the joy from my heart. It’s not Red Bull that gives you wings, it’s being able to ease the haunted look in the eyes of my parents and give everyone good news. That is everything to me. That and knowing I can look forward to my whole life ahead of me again.
Sincerely, this has been the most instructive and invaluable experience of my life. I would do everything again exactly the same. The only negative for me has been the suffering and heartache it has caused for everyone that I love.
Despite immense amounts of evidence, alternative, natural methods, especially around nutrition are still largely scoffed at by the medical community. More understandably, they also don’t consider the individual and the power of the mind.
“Despite overwhelming amounts of evidence, alternative, natural methods are still largely scoffed at by the medical community.”Natalie
Even with a dirty, great brain tumour, my positivity remained. I never forgot that there are millions upon millions of people in this world who still had it infinitely worse than me. I never forgot that I had had 27 years of a truly charmed existence; full of love, laughter and wonderful people. If this was it for me, I was grateful for everything and proud of how I’d lived and who I’d become.
Of course I wanted to live, but I wasn’t about to feel angry and bitter about the hand I’d been dealt.
It wasn’t just Chris’ book that I drew strength from. I am part of the original Harry Potter generation. I grew up with him, was 17 when Harry was 17 and queued at midnight to get the final book. There is a scene in the fourth book where Harry has to duel Voldemort in a graveyard. It has always stayed with me ever since I first read it at 12. Hidden behind a gravestone, Harry knows he is seconds away from dying. He also knows there is a difference in how it can happen – either he can die crouching, or he can die upright, showing courage until the very end.
That struck a chord with me. I vowed at that young age that if the occasion ever arose, I too would follow Harry and all the other people I’ve since come across, fictional or otherwise, who have stood up and faced the imminent end of their life with bravery and dignity.
“I too would follow Harry and all the other people, fictional or otherwise, who have stood up and faced the imminent end of their life with bravery and dignity. “Natalie
That scene was the third thought in my head after the GP broke the news that fateful day in June.
There have definitely been times where my innate feeling that somehow I would get through this, deserted me. The first week after I found out, the news hit me, fresh and awful, every morning. The fear of what I was facing stalked me constantly, easing only when I got the first good results a year later.
I have cried on my mum’s shoulder, into my pillow and with a friend while she swore to me that this was just a chapter of my life – admittedly a hideous one – but not my entire narrative.
There were even a few days right at the beginning where I referred to myself in my head in the past tense, thinking about how I’d like my funeral to be. Incidentally, very colourful with lots of dancing and inappropriate music – Sean Paul or something of that ilk but a fair few decades into the future, please. Oh and completely eco-friendly too – get a few trees planted or something. Thanks!
“There were even a few days right at the beginning where I referred to myself in my head in the past tense, thinking about how I’d like my funeral to be.”Natalie
For the most part however, my almost obsessive optimism has reigned supreme. I don’t see how it couldn’t have done. I refused to accept that steroids would be needed when they warned that radiotherapy would cause severe headaches. In fact, I enjoyed the radiotherapy sessions. I used the 20 minutes to meditate; soothing the two headaches that did come. Take that, steroids!
Yes, treatment made me sick. It lost me my favourite coat and caused quite the scene in the waiting room at Wolverhampton’s A&E. Yes, it also made me incredibly tired but it was no worse than a bad hangover. Yes, most of my hair fell out, but upon observing the mix of shapes and skin tones of the other female cancer patients around me, there wasn’t a single one of them that I didn’t think was beautiful.
As it turns out, ladies, our delicate facial features suit the look. Also, showers feel amazing on a shaved head.
As I delved into the world of cancer, I heard the phrase ‘chemo curls’. My hair has always been poker straight and I remained positive that when my hair did grow back, I would get said curls. Something I’ve always wanted and I’m thrilled to say that I did! Currently, my hair is rather reminiscent of Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon. I adore it.
I did feel a little less calm about the possibility of losing my eyebrows, but again I refused to accept their patchiness as anything but temporary; religiously applying the Argan Oil and Shea Butter. Now they’re back and better than before! Hurrah!
I’m far from the only person with a story like this. It’s not hard to find them. 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year in Britain. The only people I’ve heard about that have survived the aggression of a Glioblastoma have done it on their own, using nutrition and Cannabis. Our government is not doing enough to combat this cancer epidemic. Three things that are known to cause cancer: alcohol, cigarettes and sugar are legal here and yet THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a crucial element of Cannabis, isn’t – despite all the overwhelming evidence of its beneficial properties. Why?
While I still have a bit of my journey to go, it’s hard not to feel like I’m on the home stretch. This experience has taught me so much. Because of what I’ve achieved through natural methods, I have the chance to help people in similar circumstances. I’m only sorry for the pain it’s caused the people I love, but now I can spend the rest of my life making it up to them.
Edited by Ruby Hinchliffe and Stephanie Kleanthous