Gloria Mattioni is a writer, blogger, speaker and documentary producer. She has been cancer-free for three years by using natural therapies and cannabis oil after having a tumor in her breast removed surgically.
Around June 2011, I wasn’t feeling myself. I was tired beyond tiredness, had almost constant headaches and my energy level—usually very high—had dropped dangerously low. Everybody tried to reassure me that everything was ok, but I wasn’t convinced. Long story short, after ten blissful years without ever setting my foot in a physician’s office, I decided I had to figure out the causes of my symptoms. I signed up for health insurance and checked into a hospital lab for tests. Good thing I did. Never believe people who tell you that cancer is a silent killer. If you are in touch with your body and your feelings, you’ll know it before you read it on your lab results. And talking about lab tests, don’t be satisfied with a normal blood work. In many cases, cancer does not show up there. I realized I had to be in charge of my health and not allow anybody else to make decisions on my behalf, so I insisted on more tests. In the end, here I was with the news that I had, indeed, breast cancer. My distrust of the health system possibly increased when I was told this on the phone by the same nurse from the radiology department who also refused to tell me what stage my cancer was for “privacy reasons.” Apparently, the only one entitled to discuss this “detail” was the surgeon she scheduled me to see… two weeks later. And so I was left to wonder how bad it could be.
I spent the following two weeks trying to sort out my feelings about it on one side, and surfing the web for possible alternative treatments on the other. One thing was in fact crystal clear to me since day one. I wouldn’t allow anybody to poison me in order to ”kill” my cancer, possibly killing me as a delayed “side effect”. I don’t have a bad relationship with death, which I consider a rite of passage already inscribed in every living being’s future. You don’t need psychic powers to know we all have to die at some point. We just don’t know how and when. “When” never concerned me much. I’d rather live a short, healthy and fulfilling life than a long, mediocre one. That’s why I never spared myself, diving head first with passion in every adventure worth exploring without fearing the risks. “How” is the real thing. No way I’m going to die in a hospital with needles stuck in my veins, throwing up and too weak to get up and walk (my true medicine has always been hiking in the woods.) Having said that, despite my relative peace with the idea of a possible accelerated rescheduling of my departure from earth, I had a son who lost his young wife to brain cancer barely six moths earlier, and an infant granddaughter without a mom to raise her. I was no longer free to make decisions only for myself.
While I was sent an “informative” breast-cancer package to explain why chemo and radiation therapy are such great things, I dedicated infinite hours researching on the internet and reading books (one of the best, btw, was Outsmart Your Cancer by Tanya Harter Pierce- I highly advise reading it.) The day of my appointment with the surgeon, I was told that my cancer was stage one. I was offered the option of a mastectomy or a lumpectomy (removing only the malignant nodule, instead of the whole breast.) To go the lumpectomy route, though, I had to commit to the follow up treatments: chemotherapy and 10 weeks of radiation. My research had convinced me that getting rid of the malignant “mass” was a good idea. But I wasn’t sold on chemo or a long radiation term. In fact, the usual prescription for ten weeks of radiotherapy for a similar case is, in my opinion, swollen by the financial agenda of hospitals, fattening up on this costly treatment. My intention was already set on refusing chemotherapy and submitting myself to only three weeks of radiotherapy, per my research findings. Being truthful is one of my main values so having to lie wasn’t very nice. And yet, in times of war, you find yourself resorting to all possible weapons trying to assure your victory. I was at war, against cancer as well as against a system that considers the patient just an organ assemblage, and symptoms something to immediately be suppressed and eliminated.
During this time, I had also realized that my breast cancer wasn’t such a big surprise. In the previous few years, I had experienced loss elevated to the maximum power with the deaths of my still young sister and daughter in law, whom I tried to “nurse” back to health with all my strength but couldn’t. These were the first failures in the life of an over-achiever, who always obtained whatever she set her mind to. I also had to closely witness and monitor the agony of my mother on her death bed (in her own house thanks goodness, after I ‘kidnapped’ her from the Italian hospital where she had been checked in just to die). Last but not least, I had also just lost my long time dog-companion to cancer. On top of this, to cope with the stress of seeing so many of my loved ones dropping dead one after the other, I had slacked on my diet and exercise regimen. And here I should open a different chapter about nutrition and stress management, something a regular oncologist would not discuss with you beside some generic advice to “eat healthy and exercise half an hour a day five times a week”. Try to inquire more about what a “healthy diet” means, and they will give you a prescription based on the FDA approved pyramid where grains and dairy still count for the bigger percentages. Cancer cells feed on sugar. This doesn’t mean that cancer is directly caused by sugar and that you cannot enjoy your slice of tiramisù for dessert, provided that you’re healthy. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, though, your best bet is to keep your glycemic index as low as possible. Grains, even if they are “whole”, quickly turn into sugar in your blood stream. Keeping their consumption at a minimum is very important, and even better would be eliminating all gluten products. Dairy products cause inflammation and inflammation creates an environment where the process of natural healing is already compromised. I heard oncologists advising patients on chemo to eat pizza to cope with the weight loss, but I never heard a word about using marijuana to lighten up and relax, instead of dangerous antidepressants.
I charted my own therapy path. I had surgery in December 2011, followed by a week of detoxing retreat, raw food, yoga and meditation at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego to quickly push out the toxins left in my body by the anesthesia, and get some much needed energy to face the three weeks of radiotherapy in February that I had chosen to accept. I had, meanwhile, informed my oncologist that I would not go through chemotherapy. When she realized that I was firm on my decision, she asked me if I would be interested in participating in a trial to determine IF chemotherapy was indeed useful for women at my stage of cancer. I agreed to the trial, thinking that many women could benefit from the findings. My oncologist explained the details. They’d send half of the women in the trial to chemo, and half to only radiotherapy, following them closely with lab testing every three months. The frequent lab testing sounded good to keep an eye on my hormone levels since there was no way I would allow Tamoxifen, a highly controversial medication with plenty of frequent side effects, to chemically induce menopause. My genetic risk potential of recurrence was set low at 17%. I intended to keep an optimal hormone level eliminating estrogen-raising foods like dairy, coffee, gluten and red meat from my diet and use only natural supplements like Chrysine, Bioperine and cannabis oil.
My oncologist was an open-minded person, willing to work with my strong convictions despite her own. The radiology department, on the other hand… not so much. The head of the department saw me only for the initial visit despite my repeated requests to meet her after experiencing excruciating burns during the “treatment”, administered by technicians whose only advice was to “put on more moisturizer.” She minimized the possibility of secondary cancer caused by radiation, dismissing my inquiry on the spot. She seemed to remember about me only after she was informed that I had interrupted radiotherapy at the end of the third week. She made sure I was called every single day for the next two weeks by various nurses trying to scare me. But their terroristic approach only reinforced my decision. I imagined how many other women would give up and become the silent, obedient patient they want you to be.
At the time of my diagnosis. I had made another big decision. I didn’t intend to allow cancer to rule my life. I never pitied myself. I wasn’t going to allow others to do so. Therefore, I never publicly discussed my cancer. Only very few of my close circle knew, and knew better than talking about it when they met me. This is the very first time I openly reveal to be a cancer survivor. My reason to do so is exactly to encourage others to explore any possible alternative treatment before poisoning their minds and bodies.
For instance, my experience with cannabis oil proved to be extremely useful in eliminating insomnia, making me sleep like a baby and having delightful, vivid and entertaining dreams as a lovely “side effect”. It also helped me to be calmer and more relaxed. The only downside is that I do feel lightly stoned in the first hours of the morning and I have a little harder time focusing and gearing up for work. An easy remedy to it, I discover, is allowing myself half an hour of “me time” walking my dog in the canyons before starting the day, even before breakfast.
The other remedy is determining your own dosage, which can be done only by trial and error. I had a couple of pitfalls on the path, when I tried to increase my dosage (evidently too optimistically) and I almost fell when waking up at 3 am and trying to reach the bathroom. Generally speaking, I found out, “half a grain of rice” measured on a plastic toothpick with a spatula is the dosage for a woman of my weight and height (130 lbs, 5.6”), at least for the first couple of months. It can then be slightly increased to one whole grain of rice, which will bring monthly consumption to about 5 grams, for a cost of about $300: expensive but not even comparable to the cost of the prescribed treatments. If cannabis oil is used to fight active cancer cells, this dosage should be increased to 18 or more grams a month. In this case, you should realize that fighting cancer with natural medicine should be your absolute priority for the time of treatment. Better giving up on pushing to keep up with a “normal” life and work schedule. Three months is all it takes to see results and know if the oil is working. And at the end of the day, a three month-vacation (or partial vacation) from usual routine to allow your mind-body connection to be reset doesn’t look like a big sacrifice. Or does it?
Gloria Mattioni is the author of “Reckless-The Outrageous Lives of Nine Kick-Ass Women”, published in October 2005, and “Dakota Warrior-The Story of James R. Weddell“, published in February, 2014, both available in selected bookstores and on Amazon.com. She previously published in Italy a novel, Con Altri Occhi, and three non-fiction books , Guerriero Dakota, Wild Women, and La Tribù dei Mangiatori di Sogni. They were written in Italian and are available through Amazon.it. Please, visit the author at her blog, www.be-reckless.com.