Nick Parker – The CancerJourneyMan
A challenging diagnosis
On Christmas Eve 2015, aged 51, I was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. Mine was a particularly nasty dose: the Prostate Specific Antigen level (PSA: the blood marker for prostate cancer) was 625 ng/ml. This was more than 150 times higher than the widely perceived safe limit of 4 ng/ml. In addition, on snipping bits out of my prostate during the biopsy, the doctors confirmed the cancer to be of an especially aggressive kind (a Gleason score of 9). Furthermore, scans of my body showed that the cancer had metastasized all over my skeleton, with too many cancer sites for the oncologists to count. So they didn’t bother.
With no cure possible (so the seasoned medics informed me), I was put on an end of life palliative care programme. Too far gone for operations or radiotherapy (the total body dose required would kill me) I was resigned to flooding my body with whatever chemicals the conventional protocols allowed. I did not ask for statistics: I do not consider myself a statistic and I had enough gut feel for the odds. I reasoned that if I worked hard at it, harder than I have ever worked at a project in my life, then why couldn’t I put claim one of the 5 places in the 5% of people who survive a death sentence (whatever that means). I just had to work harder than 95% of other people.
My Treatment protocols
I have assembled a 12-person personal health team, including Cancer Buddies, complementary oncologists, yoga masters, psychotherapists, nutritionists, Chinese herbalists & acupuncturists, strength & conditioning experts, buddhists, GPs, nurses, conventional oncologists and my wonderful wife. They know that I make the decisions. Often in the face of fear and no evidence.
I have left barely a stone unturned in a 27-month journey, although I keep some less palatable treatment options in reserve, until the time necessitates. I have devised strategies for travelling daily journeys in seven areas of life that I now deem to be the route to complete, deep and lasting health:
- Stress management and mind control
- Physical exertion and rest
- Love, spirituality & other aspects of becoming a ‘complete human’
- Understanding conventional treatments, complementary therapies and their administering systems
- Understanding my unique biology as it strives to flourish under the challenges of a western society.
- Nurturing philosophies, beliefs and methodologies that enable me to move forward in uncertain times.
I have experimented with every diet under the sun and have concluded that central to my health approach is the adoption of ancestral based, restricted calorie, low GI, whole food plant nutrition.
I use conventional treatment to buy me time whilst I uncreate an internal cancerous environment, using more benign and body friendly approaches. I have been endured rounds of chemotherapy, hormone blockers and other ghastly things. They tell me I am chemically castrated.
Although an evidence-based engineer by training, I have unlearned many jaundiced views and now experiment with the latest thinking in holistic therapies for the mind, body and soul. When you are grapping at the edge of knowledge, there is no evidence of a path trodden before. Functional testing of how my body behaves under ‘testing’ circumstances gives me a little bit of wind in my sails to be able to move forward.
New health milestones reached
On 23rd June 2016, just 7 months after diagnosis, bone and organ scans confirmed to my medical team that there was no evidence of disease (NED) remaining in my body. Whilst delighted with the news, I knew how tricky cancer is to contain. Particularly the metastasized kind. There was, and remains, no room for complacency: every day I continue to experiment, maintaining the positive belief and total lifestyle overhaul that will keep my disease under control.
The latest bone and soft organ scans of November 2017 showed further improvements on the scans of a year earlier. The metastases are still a thing of the past and even the bone repair marks (sclerosis) are vanishing.
There have been other successes along the way too:
- Where once one third of 37 blood markers (including triglycerides and cholesterol) told me my body was chronically sick, these are now all corrected. This is despite chemotherapy rendering my bone marrow useless for a period of 2 years. My red and white cells are now in rude health, restoring though natural interventions– something that I was told could not happen;
- After 12 years I am off medication for hypertension (high blood pressure).
- I have managed to overcome candida overgrowth, frozen shoulder, and hormone induced symptoms of female menopause;
- I have rid my right kidney of a sack full of renal stones. Peeing out 6mm jagged pebbles made me wince. Perhaps the most painful thing of all my last 27 months;
- I have been through a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) programme to sort out a time when my purpose has vapourised into nothingness;
- My PSA blood marker has been as low as 0.4ngml, 0.01% of diagnosis levels.
- Having lost 27% of my body weight through muscle atrophy (wastage), everything is now stable.
On Christmas Eve 2017 I joined a tiny handful of people living in the UK. I became one of just 17,000 people, or 0.7% of the 2,500,000 individuals who are living with cancer, who pass their 2nd anniversary and enter their 3rd year living with stage 4 of the disease.
Daily life is undeniably a challenge:
- I have to try to balance the household finances between hospital visits, bouts of physical pain and the dark days of a wondering mind. To be frank I could not do this without a significant number of very significant friends riding to the rescue.
- I realise that I am not looking for a cure that is not yet with us. I have to keep reminding myself that new health challenges will hit me unannounced. This is fine and my new-found pleasure is scaling the summit of every health mountain and rejoicing before I know that the next one has to be tackled
- My PSA is perhaps on the upward trend again. Biologically, this might not have short term significance, but it sure plays on the mind in anticipation of the blood test results.
- I have discovered three 8-9mm ‘boulders’ nestling in my left kidney. The doctors and I have decided that we are going to have to resort to the nuclear option to shift these.
The is no doubt, in my own mind at least, that I have become a more complete and content human than I ever was. Every day I live is better than the last. I was once apologetic about the angst that I subjected my family to, but now we all appreciate the positive life lessons that my condition has taught us.
A new life purpose
I am more than sure that I created my cancer through living a stressful westernized lifestyle that only I can be accountable for. I choose to disagree with the opinion that I am simply unlucky in the ‘fact’ that I was born with dodgy genes. More than anything, such views steal my hope.
My life purpose is now redefined: I am lucky enough to view this self-imposed health challenge as a wonderful opportunity to reach out to others. My life task is to shake people out of their stupor. For most of us our state of health is a direct result of the lifestyles we choose to lead. Most of us have forgotten what daily decisions, struggles and sacrifices are necessary to live a full and healthy life. The toxicity of our lives has crept up on us over the past 100 years, yet our biological functions were largely devised 55million years ago. Our bodies cannot cope with an over-fed, mal-nourished, permanently ‘on’, sedentary existence. Our mass health systems and the people who work in them are wonderful, but they can’t cope. And it is simply too important to give the responsibility of managing our health to others, who use conveyor belt medicine. Yet most of us do.
It is time to stop.
All the answers to restoring health are out there. We have just got to know where to look. And adjust our mindsets.
And so, my new purpose in life is to devote my time helping communities embark on, and sustain, new journeys in personal holistic health. To help them adjust their mindsets and to action change.
Since October 2017 I have been running a series of 2-hour public ‘conversations with an audience’ events in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and London. Using my story and results of self-experimentation I seek to give my knowledge to others. I am told by my wonderful audiences that these create both concrete benefit and fuel the fires of hope.
I am in the process of launching two new initiatives to help you achieve youe best health:
An annual wellbeing conference for the people of North Oxfordshire and surrounding areas. Eight TED style talks by health experts and commentators over the course of a day.
To be held in Chipping Norton on 29th September 2018.
Access by ticket to go on sale soon.
A membership organisation open to the public of North Oxfordshire and surrounding areas
- benefitting from access to
- a series of monthly group health conversations facilitated by Nick Parker
- presentations by health practitioners and experts
- a community of health practitioners
- health change programmes in schools, workplaces, shops and the community at large.
- for people wanting constant support and continuous learning in all aspects of their health journeys.
- benefitting from access to