Way back in 1971, Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, calling it “an evil enemy that we will defeat within 15 years.” Forty years on, this warlike mind-set remains: we fight cancer, survive it, or lose the battle. Is it time to move away from this notion of cancer as an indiscriminate enemy, attacking even people who ‘do the right thing’ – healthy, active people like naturopath Katrina Ellis – and towards the idea of engaging with the disease, meeting it as an equal and learning from it?

Ellis, who contracted a rare and especially virulent cancer, germ cell carcinoma, is the first to say that a disease does not just arrive without a reason. “By finding and removing the causative factors, we can help ensure recovery and live without fear of recurrence,” she says. She is convinced that her decision to learn as much as possible about her cancer and, in the process, herself, helped her beat the disease.

Should natural therapies be adjunctive or frontline cancer treatments? It entirely depends on the type of cancer, its developmental stage at diagnosis, and the individual’s health. Some cancers respond well to chemotherapy or radiation, so in these cases natural therapies can reduce side effects, minimise damage to the body, and remove toxins left over from treatment. However, many cancers don’t respond to chemo or radiation, so natural therapies are definitely a frontline treatment.

Are there any new natural therapies or tests you are excited about? In Australia, patients can now access early cancer detection and screening. I can send off a blood sample to be tested for circulating tumour cells (CTCs), which are a sub-population of cells derived from a primary tumour site. CTC detection and analysis is valuable because it can evaluate tumour progression, response to treatment, prognosis, resistance to chemo, and choice of targeted therapies.

What advice do you have for people who have overcome cancer? Be vigilant about diet, lifestyle, emotions and supplements for two years afterwards. At my clinic during this time, we monitor patients’ health with live blood screening, blood testing, and cellular analysis. After the two years, they can relax a little, provided they follow the 80:20 rule – that is, 80 percent perfect, and 20 percent almost perfect. I also think that, unless someone is working in their passion, giving them fulfilment, they will never be happy. Cancer is a wake-up call, giving a person a nudge to change areas in their life that previously made them unhappy. Believing that you truly deserve to live is the greatest tool anyone has in their fight against cancer.

What do you do to keep yourself cancer-free? I eat organic fruit and veg, with an emphasis on leafy greens like broccoli, kale, spinach, rocket, and endive. I use flaxseed oil, Udo’s oil and undistilled apple cider vinegar on my salads, and I drink six to eight glasses of alkaline, ionised water daily. I take antioxidants, fish oils, coenzyme Q10, a phase 2 liver detoxifier, MGN-3 Arabinoxylan, DIM, iodine, and selenium. I walk on the beach most mornings with my husky, practise yoga, and – most importantly – have lots of fun with my husband, children, friends, and family.

Katrina’s top 10 tips

1. Educate yourself Learn about your particular type of cancer and any orthodox or natural therapies that have shown success in beating it. Knowledge is power.

2. Chill An undeniable link exists between chronic stress and negative emotions and their ability to incite cancer. To heal cancer, it is important not only to improve physical cellular health, but also emotional and psychological health. Meditation, counselling, emotional freedom technique, and NLP are all great places to start.

3. Eat well Focus on organic vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, raw foods and live juices. Eliminate processed foods, dairy products, saturated fats and sodium. Avoid sugar in all forms: cancer cells have 15 to 30 times more glucose receptors than normal cells, and they greedily gobble sugar so they can grow.

4. Drink up Aim for 2 to 3 litres of alkaline water with a pH range of 8.5 to 9.5, rich in minerals and with an oxygen reduction potential (ORP) of -300 or higher. Buy an alkaline water filter that filters and ionises the water.

5. Sleep safe Katrina has slept with a Magnafield - a low resonance, harmonic therapy device operating at a 0.5 frequency – under her bed for 10 years to restore natural cellular energetics and boost oxygenation levels.

6. Stay alkaline It is important to maintain highly oxygenated, alkaline pH blood.

7. Up the ante Include plenty of antioxidant nutrients - vitamins A, C, E and D, lipoic acid, germanium, lycopene, selenium, and coenzyme Q10.

8. Add insurance Take cancer-fighting nutraceuticals and herbs like MGN-3 Arabinoxylan, resveratrol, green tea extract, cat’s claw, herb robert, graviola, turmeric, and polygonum.

9. Investigate enzymes New research is highlighting their potential in diminishing fibrin coatings surrounding tumours, thereby allowing the immune system and orthodox therapies better access to tumours.

10. Get tested Specific tests can identify causative factors for cancer development as well as your immune status. For instance, a T-cell lymphocyte subset blood test identifies the breakdown of lymphocytes within your immune system, including CD3, CD4, CD8 and natural killer (NK) cells. NKs are designed to directly kill cancer cells: if they are low, you can use natural medicines to boost them.

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