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Marilu Henner on how her husband’s small steps scored a big win over cancer

Marilu Henner stands with her two sons Nick (from left) Joey her husbMichael.

Marilu Henner stands with her two sons, Nick (from left) Joey and her husband Michael.

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Updated: October 26, 2012 6:13AM

For years I’ve been obsessed with the idea of “changing normal.”

If it sounds like an oxymoron, allow me to explain: Let’s say your “normal” is waking up in the morning feeling imprisoned by bad health (or a body that doesn’t serve you well, or a deadbeat relationship, or a job that’s going nowhere), and at the end of the day, you turn off the light and nothing has moved forward. Then, maybe, your normal has to beconsidered. Normal has to be changed.

This holds true for everything.

Take cancer.

Think of your body as a garden. A weed sprouts. It’s not enough to go in there, cut out that weed, throw some chemicals on it and think the job is done. Some other weed is bound to show up sooner or later because the conditions that helped sprout that first one haven’t changed.

When most people get sick, they look for a doctor who tells them, “Just take this pill (or procedure, surgery or treatment), and you’ll be back to normal in no time!” Run fast from a doctor who treats your disease but offers no other advice to radically change your life.

I should know. In 2003, my husband Michael and I had only been together for two months when he was diagnosed with two cancers: stage three bladder cancer and early stage lung cancer. We had met as freshmen at the University of Chicago thirty years before, and after all those years I was finally with the love of my life, but realized I might lose him.

As we began to search for a protocol, one of his close relatives was diagnosed with an early stage cervical cancer. From the moment she was diagnosed, her family focused only on getting her past her disease and back to normal, and found a doctor who sold them on treatments that would allow her to get there as fast as possible. Never mind that her normal included comfort food, diet sodas and a sedentary lifestyle.

What began as small steps — a surgery here, some chemo there, some radiation to eradicate growths, a recurrence after “remission,” another round of chemo, some surgery to remove new tumors — became an endless march toward a painful death. By the time it was over, she had shrunk to a third of her size, her body defenseless against the onslaught of aggressive cancer “cures.”

Meanwhile, my husband Michael completely changed his normal. He began to hydrate, eat a vegan diet and detox the chemicals and heavy metals out of his body. He started rebounding, skin-brushing, taking vitamins and supplements, infrared saunas, lymphatic massages and colonics. He chose not do chemo or radiation, but integrated other conventional therapies with his detox, including surgery for his lung cancer and immunotherapy for his bladder cancer. He did these therapies while strengthening — rather than suppressing — his immune system, and nursed his body with nutrients and tender loving care that allowed his body to withstand the onslaught.

As a result, he became cancer free in December 2003, just seven months after first being diagnosed. And he’s still at it. In fact, he’s healthier now than he has been his entire life. And he would never go back to his pre-cancer normal.

As I read about people in the news who have taken aggressive steps to kill their cancer, I have to pray that they, too, are changing their normal. There can’t be anything so precious in a lifestyle that has spawned a disease as horrific as cancer. So why not change the way you’ve been living? That way, if these aggressive therapies do work, the cancer will not only be defeated, it will never come back.

Marilu Henner donated her fee for writing this coumn to PCRM: Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.

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