Source: “A Doctor Heals Himself of Terminal Cancer,” One Peaceful World, Autumn 1989. Also “The Macrobiotic Approach to Cancer,” by Michio Kushi.
Hugh Faulkner was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer not long after happily retired as a general practitioner in London, and returned to the countryside outside of Florence, Italy with his wife. He experienced bowel obstruction and food absorption difficulties. So he underwent a surgery to relieve the obstruction but the surgeons made no attempt to remove the cancer.
A young woman who had given Dr. Faulkner shiatsu treatments for back pain recommended macrobiotics. He read some books on macrobiotics, and thought that it may help improve the quality of the months remaining to him. The usual rate of survival of his situation was about two to four months. All his medical friends assumed that he would die. What Dr. Faulkner was afraid of and dreaded , not the death itself, but the pain, the incontinence, the loss of autonomy when he became helpless.
Back in England, the Faulkners checked into a hospice – a center for the dying. While awaiting the end, they went to a macrobiotic center where a macrobiotic teacher advised them and encouraged them to see Michio Kushi for more recommendations. Luckily 6 weeks later, they met Michio Kushi on his European Seminars. Michio Kushi spent a long time examining Dr. Faulkner’s texture – its appearance, elasticity and color. The Dr. Faulkner asked, “well, can macrobiotics heal my cancer?”
“No,” said Kushi, “but your body can. What we can do is advise you on a diet and way of life that will almost certainly make you feel much better and give your body a chance to reject the cancer. We can’t give you any guarantees – but we have plenty of evidence from cases like yours that it can work.”
The couple returned back to their farm house in Italy, started cooking for themselves. The diet Michio recommended was a modified version of the standard macrobiotic diet. For breakfast, there was whole grain porridge and occasionally whole grain bread. Lunch included vegetable soup and tofu, tempeh, or another protein dish. Dinner consisted of pressure cooked brown rice and vegetables and occasionally, stewed fruits. Dr. Faulkner’s diarrhea went away and he began to feel better. His wife also experienced improvement – she began to feel more energetic and confident. Visitors who came by to say goodbye to the dying doctor found him chopping wood and full of energy. By Autumn 1988, medical tests showed “no evidence of cancer, no evidence of abnormality of any kind.”
“The big change in macrobiotics was hope, however implausible. That, and the feeling that I was regaining control of my destiny.” Dr. Faulkner said.
Pancreatic Cancer Recovery
A Doctor Heals Himself of Terminal Illness
Dr. Hugh Faulkner was 74 when he was diagnosed as having terminal cancer of the pancreas and was given three months to live. As a last resort, he turned to macrobiotics and made a miraculous recovery. Today Dr. Faulkner is 79 and feels as fit and healthy as he did in his youth. In Physician Heal Thyself, Dr. Faulkner and his wife, Marian, a nurse, recount his dramatic recovery.
The radiologist seemed rather bored with yet another routine, probably unnecessary, ultrasound scan. Suddenly he stopped and concentrated on one area of my abdomen. He didn’t tell me what he had found but got up and left the room. When he came back, he asked me to go back and see my doctor immediately. We learned fro the doctor that the radiologist had seen a mass in the region of my pancreas, a mass which was almost certainly cancerous. He advised an immediate operation. I knew that I could expect to live only a few months, with or without the operation. My surgeon performed the operation himself. He found a tumor “the size of a cricket ball” in the head of the pancreas.
Waiting to die, Dr. Faulkner prepared to check into a hospice outside of London when a shiatsu practitioner encouraged him to try macrobiotics.
Like most people, I was used to a diet of a little red meat, chicken, plenty of eggs, vegetables, white pasta, brown bread, regular use of sugar, chocolates, sweets and several cups of coffee a day.
My initial macrobiotic diet included pressure-cooked brown rice, rice with barley and boiled millet, steamed, boiled or stewed vegetables, beans cooked with vegetables until soft as in a thick casserole or soup: and vegetable soups seasoned with wakame seaweed and miso, a thick salty paste.
We also ate other seaweeds, a salty, sour, pickled plum called umeboshi, tofu, whole wheat noodles, and stewed fruit twice a week. There was a wide range of seasonings and condiments. We drank mainly spring water or bancha tea which is brewed from twigs. I was advised not to have any meat, chicken, dairy food, eggs, sugar, alcohol, spices, biscuits, or refined foods.
I didn’t find the transition to a macrobiotic diet very difficult. Cooking has been a hobby of mine for the past fifteen years or so, and, from the first, I saw the macrobiotic cuisine as a new and interesting challenge.
We had both decided to follow the macrobiotic diet and way of life as seriously and completely as we could. This decision was clearly influenced by my death sentence. If there was any possibility that macrobiotics could help my body to resist the cancer, I was determined to give it every chance to do so. In the early days I was far from convinced about the effectiveness of macrobiotics; therefore, Marian’s determination and willingness to follow macrobiotic advice was enormously important.
But probably the most important fact was that I began to feel much better and energetic than I had for years after only two or three weeks on the diet.
My son, Tim, a radiologist in Norway, arrived and expressed his concern about me. Trained in orthodox Western medicine, he accepted the official prognosis. Though he agreed with our decision to try macrobiotics, he obviously regarded it as “clutching at straws.”
In all this activity, the most important single element was the sensation that I was regaining control of my own body and taking personal action which could possible – however improbable from the point of view of orthodox medicine -help my body to overcome cancer.
In the south of France, we heard Michio Kushi lecture for the first time. He has great charm and charisma, and discourages any attempts to make him a guru or some kind of saint. Aveline, his wife, gave cooking demonstrations. She is very small and delightful, in her sixties now, but looks far younger than her age.
Marian and I met with Michio. He listened to my brief history–it was exactly two months since my diagnosis. He looked very carefully at my face and eyes, and examined my abdomen. I asked him if macrobiotics could help me become free of cancer. He said, “No, but your body can.”
He then gave us a set of dietary instructions, which his assistant recorded as Michio talked about my particular diet in greater detail. Most of this can be found in Michio’s book, The Cancer Prevention Diet. The diet basically consists of 50 to 60 percent of whole brown rice or other whole grains, well cooked pulses, and fresh lightly cooked vegetables in season (preferably local and organically grown). Michio also stressed the importance of chewing every mouthful very well, of regular exercise, fresh air, pure water, and weekly shiatsu massage.
Physician Heal Thyself, The Cancer Prevention Diet and other macrobiotic books are available through the Kushi Store.