As published in Get Fresh Magazine Issue 50 Spring 2008
A Journey to Optimum Health
When Janette Murray-Wakelin was diagnosed with highly aggressive carcinoma breast cancer over six years ago, she was ‘given’ six months to live. The tumour was 3cm and the cancer had spread into the chest wall and the lymph nodes. It was recommended that she undergo conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatment, which may possibly extend her life a further 6 months.
At 52 years, a mother of two and grandmother of one, she was not willing to accept this prognosis.
“I had lived a very healthy lifestyle, being vegetarian for 25 years and vegan for the previous 15 years,” Janette explains. “I have also been extremely physically active all my life, so I was quite shocked with the diagnosis.”
“However, the power of intention is far greater than that of fear,” Janette continues, “and I had every intention of staying around for a long time!”
Janette was alerted to the possibility of cancer being present when her little grandson inadvertently found the tumour. “I had been carrying him all day as we walked around a local festival and he had fallen asleep in my arms,” she remembers. “When we finally got home and I put him down, I noticed some pain in the breast area where he had been holding on to me. It was then that I discovered the lump.”
“I was not overly perturbed, ” Janette said. “I had always done regular self breast examinations and had never had any sign of a problem. In fact,” she notes, “apart from a bout of scarlet fever and measles as a tiny child, I have never been sick in my life. I have never had so much as a cold and I’ve never taken any drugs, not even an aspirin! I thought it was just bruising to the tissue from being held onto for hours by my grandson.”
It was Janette’s daughter who suggested she should have it looked at and the following day she had an ultrasound and biopsy, which proved the diagnosis.
“My intuitive response to the recommended treatment was that it did not make sense to compromise the body’s system further,” Janette explains. “ It seemed obvious to me that I should be helping the body to rejuvenate and rebuild, thereby reversing the problem.”
“My instinct told me that treating the symptoms would not address the cause. I was also convinced that I was not meant to die of cancer, so I treated the diagnosis as a challenge,” she said. “It seemed to me that this was just a message from my body that there was a problem I needed to deal with.”
A year earlier, Janette had been present at her grandson’s birth and had held his little hand for his first 24 hours of life. “I promised him that we would have many wonderful times together over the years and that I would always be there for him,” she recalls. “Now he had brought this to my attention so that I could take care of the problem and be able to keep my promise!”
Janette and her husband Alan have spent most of their lives traveling together worldwide. They married and their two children were born while still in their early twenties. In search of a healthy lifestyle for their little family, this adventurous couple sailed from their home country of New Zealand when their children were very small. Their sailboat was completely self-sufficient, relying on the four winds to take them throughout the South Pacific; visiting, living and working in places like the Tongan Islands, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.
“Our time on the ocean was incredible,” Janette recalls. “We learned a lot about ourselves from living on the sea. Most of the time it was so serene, but there were moments of awe when the storms raged around us! It was fun home-schooling our children and as a family, we grew very close,” she mused. “It was a carefree life with very little stress, our food was mostly fresh fruit and vegetables and our environment was pretty clean and green.”
It was hard for Janette to think of what the cause may have been given the healthy lifestyle she had been living. However, during a maintenance refit for the sailboat, she did suffer an accident, which exposed her to a high dose of toxins.
“I was painting the boat when the scaffolding collapsed under me,” she recalls. “It happened so fast that I was still holding the can of paint when I hit the ground! I was completely covered in marine paint that has toxic antifouling properties, it was in my hair, my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I ingested quite a bit, but most of my skin was covered in paint. It took 3 months before my normal skin colour came back and since the skin is the largest organ of the body, over-exposure for me was inevitable!”
After four years sailing in the South Pacific, the family embarked on a new adventure for a further four years; living and working on a cargo ship on the inland waterways throughout Europe.
“This adventure is another story in itself,” Janette says, “but during that time I was also exposed to toxic fall-out from the Chernoble disaster. Looking back over my life and remembering those two times when I was over-exposed to toxins, I realized that my body must have been highly compromised.”
Whether it was one incident or the other, or perhaps the combination of both, Janette was sure that the toxic load in her body predisposed her to the onset of cancer.
“I could think of no other explanation, but once I had established the cause,” she said, “I felt more empowered to do something about it. I was no longer guessing, taking a gamble on treatment, nor in fear of the outcome. I knew that I could take control of the situation myself, doing 100% the best I could for my body.”
The family’s initial reaction to the diagnosis was to research all they could about breast cancer, the possible causes and the treatments that were recommended, as well as looking into natural holistic therapies and making lifestyle changes that would be most likely to result in a positive outcome.
“We needed to know all the possibilities so that I could make an informed choice as to the best course of action to take,” Janette said. “I knew that it made sense to do everything I could to give the body the tools it needed to take me on my journey to optimum health. Our extensive research not only gave us the knowledge to do just that, but also the confidence to know that I had made the right choice.”
With the help of Janette’s naturopathic physician, she established a regime that focused on the holistic approach of mind, body and spirit. This intensive regime included intravenous immune therapy; Infrared detoxification therapy; increasing the amount of oxygen to the body through ozone treatment, conscious breathing and aerobic exercise; visualization, meditation, positive thinking and spiritual awareness; and maximizing the amount of nutrients taken into the body through juicing, wheatgrass and living food nutrition.
For the following six months after receiving the diagnosis, Janette spent 3 hours a day, 5 days a week at the naturopathic clinic having therapy to help boost the immune system. “I used the time sitting hooked up to the intravenous drip to relax. It also gave me time to do more research,” she said.
She increased the amount of exercise that she was already doing on a daily basis, incorporating yoga and long distance running. “With yoga I was able to reunite with myself. I came to know my inner self and to love myself unconditionally. My running became more meditative. I chose to run on trails in the mountains or barefoot in the sand along the beach. I could feel again the sense of freedom that I remembered when I ran as a child.”
“I visualized achieving personal goals that I had long since put aside – perhaps I would write, perhaps I would paint. I visualized myself proudly looking on at my grandson’s wedding; going full circle and being present at his child’s birth,” Janette smiles.
Daily sessions in the infrared sauna maximized the detoxification process. “I could feel the body ridding itself of toxins while enjoying the feeling of complete relaxation during the sessions,” she said.
“My nutritional intake took a huge leap. I started juicing in earnest. It made sense that I could consume more nutrients by juicing because I just wouldn’t be able to eat that amount of food. If it takes 4 cups of carrots to produce 1 cup of juice, and I could drink 4 cups of juice per day, I knew I was way ahead of the game,” she said. “I think I was close to consuming a truckload of carrots every week during those 6 months! My hands turned carrot-coloured, but I didn’t care! I was alive and running!”
“I also started taking wheatgrass,” Janette adds. “When I learned that one ounce of wheatgrass juice has the equivalent nutritional value of 2lbs of green leafy vegetables, (that’s more than most people eat in a week!), I never hesitated.”
Apart from having all the vitamins and most of the minerals the body needs to be healthy, wheatgrass juice also has all the amino acids making it a complete protein. Like all greens, wheatgrass is also very high in chlorophyll, which is pure oxygen to the body. When taken, the juice goes directly to the bloodstream, oxygenating the blood and the whole body.
“I knew from the research that we had done, that this was a crucial factor in stopping the mutation of cancer cells,” Janette explains. “Cancer cannot survive in an oxygenated environment, therefore the more oxygen I could pump into the body through exercise, conscious breathing and drinking wheatgrass, the better!”
Although Janette had been vegetarian and vegan for most of her life, she decided that if she was going to “give it 100%”, she would also eliminate all cooked food, thereby getting the maximum amount of nutrients from all foods she consumed.
“I couldn’t believe the difference in the way I felt within only one week of changing to 100% RAW food,” she exclaims. “The first thing I noticed was my clarity of mind was intensely heightened. I no longer had to think about decision making. Everything became very clear, there was no hesitation.”
“I lost 15lb within the first month of eating 100% RAW food, which took me just below my recommended weight per height ratio. The following month my weight came back up a few lbs and has not changed since,” she says.
During the first 6 months, Janette’s body revisited old injuries that had obviously not completely healed. For example, during her accident with the paint, she sustained an injury to her elbow that had left her unable to straighten her arm. She experienced ten days of pain in the elbow, similar to that which she had endured at the time of the accident, but when the pain stopped she could straighten her arm again!
“I also found I had much more energy than before and that it lasted longer. It was especially evident during my long training runs and my physical performance level increased,” she said. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that consuming 100% RAW food made a huge difference to my recovery time and to my overall healing.”
It is interesting that although the lifestyle changes Janette made were minimal, the positive results were profound.
“I really only had to stop eating the odd muffin, a sandwich now and then, eliminate the pasta and stop wokking my vegetables!” she laughs. “I had already eliminated meats as a child, dairy in my teens and I had never eaten processed or junk food. So the change to 100% RAW food for me was not that big, but the change to my overall health was huge. Not only did I immediately experience clarity of mind, increased energy, specific injury healing and a feeling of well-being, but I actually cured myself of cancer!”
Within the six months that Janette was ‘given’ after her diagnosis, she received a clean bill of health. There was no longer any sign of cancer cells in her body. She finished the immune therapy regime, but has continued with all other aspects of her RAW lifestyle.
Janette is quick to mention that those crucial six months were also filled with love, laughter and lots of support from her family and friends.
“I am blessed with a loving family who rallied for me with the research, with physical and mental support, and most of all,” she emphasizes, “with their unwavering conviction that the path I had chosen was mine to choose. I believe having unconditional support is also paramount in healing the body.”
“I now have two more grandchildren whom I believe I would never have known had I not made these informed choices to follow a RAW lifestyle,” she says with passion and conviction. “My diagnosis of cancer and resulting journey to optimum health has been an experience I am truly grateful for. I know for certain that I will continue on the RAW path, as I continue to experience more health benefits and an ever-increasing enlightened consciousness. Every day is exciting when you are RAW!”
As a result of her life changing experience, Janette and Alan established a Centre for Optimum Health on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, where they offered RAW Lifestyle Programs based on the holistic approach of mind, body and spirit. Health presentations, seminars and workshops were offered by over 40 holistic practitioners affiliated with the Centre on a weekly basis and international health educators spoke monthly. The Centre had a RAW Lifestyle Store, a Conscious Book, Film & Internet Library, a Fitness Studio, and an Infrared Sauna Spa. They also sponsored weekly and monthly RAW Food Potlucks and offered RAW Food Preparation Classes in the RAW Vegan Restaurant within the Centre. Both she and Alan are 100% RAW and their staff of 20 also followed the RAW Lifestyle.
Janette has a life partner, two adult children (and their partners), and five grandchildren!