The Seed SistAs with our guest and friend, Fiona Shakeela Burns
Cancer is a BIG subject. Possibly one of the words in the English language that holds the most fear. According to cancer research statistics there were 980 cancer diagnoses each day in 2014 and this number is part of a worrying growing trend.
Many of us know or have known someone whose life has been affected by cancer. There are differing allopathic drugs that treat cancer. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the most common treatments and there is a lot of contention around these medicines. Herbal medicine, nutrition, bodywork, psycho-emotional work and rest, restoration and nurture are incredibly important and have a lot to offer.
Many people diagnosed with cancer want to explore all the possible options. Many ask for cannabis oil, even though it is illegal, because they have heard it is a ‘miracle cure’. Media stories are full of loaded language purporting that various super herbs can cure all kinds of ailments and diseases. We want to be clear that this is not the way that herbs interact with us in our bodies. Herbs can support your biological system, they can help to eliminate toxins, restore and build strength, they can be anti microbial – clearing infections, they can work synergistically (with one another) to empower an individual to self-heal from a wide range of conditions, but in our belief – one herb cannot cure cancer.
There has recently been a lot of research into the potential of dandelion root as an anti-cancer agent. The research has been looking specifically at dandelion root’s ability to reset the cancer cells to start behaving ‘normally’. Dandelion root however offers a plethora of actions on the body and is not just one-faceted, unlike much of conventional medicine. Dandelion root supports digestion, blood sugar regulation and promotes bile production and flow. As our guest blogger, Fiona Burns will explain, herbalists we support the individual as a whole, we do not treat ‘the cancer’.
In Sensory Herbalism we relate the wonderful herb Dandelion and especially the tenacious root to the ability to get to the bottom or “root” of an issue. It’s long (carrot-like-shape) tap-root reaches deep into the earth and during application of dandelion root, the actual root cause of the ‘issue’ or ‘dis-ease’ often surfaces in an emotional way. The root cause of ill-health in our physicality, especially chronic conditions, usually stems from an emotional or physical shock, trauma or a prolonged period of stress.
Shock and Grief
To support the shock and grief of a diagnosis, we use our Drops of Love. These drops are powerfully supportive and delicious tasting. Their blend of rose and mint brings joy to the heart, nourishes and nurtures the soul, and centres and soothes the nerves.
We use Drops of Love for any grief over the loss of loved ones or relationships, but also to restore from the exhaustion of caring for others. Taking time to stop, think and nurture ourselves in the fast-paced world we all too often find ourselves living in is a small but potent step towards recognising the importance of looking after ourselves.
Our dear friend and fellow herbalist, Fiona Burns has been doing a lot of positive work informing people about the options there are available when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
Here she tells her story:
Aged 11, Fiona Shakeela Burns was diagnosed with leukaemia and sarcoma. Her parents elected to give her the Gerson therapy which led to her complete recovery. Inspired by that recovery, Fiona trained as a Medical Herbalist and practised for 20 years before developing cancer for the second time – this time metastasised cervix cancer which had spread to the brain and ovaries.
Whereas her first healing came about by focusing on the physical body, her second cancer experience forced her to discover the important role that the unconscious mind plays in health and wellbeing. With the help of EFT, Matrix Reimprinting and PSYCH-K, Diet and herbs, Fiona was able to release the unconscious patterns responsible for her disease which thankfully led to her complete recovery. When she was fit enough, Fiona became qualified in EFT, PSYCH-K and Matrix Reimprinting.
Fiona runs her busy practice from her home in North Bristol, where people travel to see her from all around the UK.
I first developed cancer just after starting secondary school. I’d been feeling pretty low in energy for a few months with a persistent sore throat and a strange lump in my thigh muscle. After repeated visits to the GP, tests eventually revealed that I had Plasma Cell Leukaemia and Sarcoma of my thigh muscle. I remember feeling jealous of other kids who were running around and having fun. I spent most of my time lying on the couch, feeling nauseous, light-headed and downcast. I was even too tired to visit my rabbits at the bottom of the garden.
At Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool, I had the thigh tumour removed, but tests showed that the cancer had penetrated my bone marrow, so only palliative chemotherapy was offered. Thankfully, my parents would not accept the doctors’ prognosis and took me to Naturopath Norman Eddie, in Manchester. He put me on the Gerson Therapy – a detoxification system which includes huge amounts of freshly pressed juices, coffee enemas, herbs and supplements. I remember Mum and Dad telling me that I would get better if I followed the regime. To further motivate me, they paid me for each juice and enema, as well as the supplements that I had to swallow!
Within six weeks of starting the therapy, my energy returned and before long, I was doing handstands in the back garden! My Dad recalls what a joy it was to see his daughter literally coming back to life, he specifically noticed that my hair and my eyes began to shine again. I continued on the Gerson Therapy for some time, whilst also being monitored by the hospital. Within a year, all my blood tests were back to normal, and the surprised doctors pronounced that I had gone into remission. When my parents admitted to the doctors that they had not actually been giving me the prescribed oral chemotherapy tablets “Spontaneous remission” was written on my notes!
In my early 20’s, I went to Herbal Medicine College to pursue a four-year full time qualification. I continued in good health for many years, before becoming very sick for the second time. My first obvious symptoms were shortness of breath and chest- tightness, which occurred suddenly in April 2007. This turned out to be a pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs). I was referred to the chest consultant who investigated over a period of 3 months, during which time I became progressively weaker. Internet research led me back to my GP; I had discovered that a pleural effusion could be caused by ovarian cancer. I requested an ovarian scan and a CA125 test (the blood protein that often shows up in ovarian cancer). To my horror, the results came back positive and I was hastily referred to a gynaecologist in Bristol. He told me that I had ovarian cancer and that unless I had a hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I would be dead within the year.
This was a shocking and lonely time. As a single adult, I had to absorb the full blow of the grim prognosis myself and make my own decisions regarding treatment. I wanted to know all the facts and statistics regarding the treatment my oncologist was proposing.
All my instincts were against this extreme surgery. According to my consultant, the treatment would give me a 20-30% chance of being alive in five years and a 10% chance of being alive in 10 years. This statistic was based on the diagnosis being correct which, in fact, it was not: a second look at my blood tests suggested a further tumour somewhere – perhaps in the stomach, appendix or pancreas. The hospital refused to scan me as I was not going along with their proposed treatments.
At this point, I stopped going to the hospital – I had noticed that visits there always left me feeling drained and depressed. I felt in my heart that if I was to put myself in the NHS’ hands that I would end up dead.
I started juicing as soon as I was diagnosed and followed the Gerson Therapy to the best of my ability – it was time to take a radically honest look at my life and I made the decision at this point to do everything in my power to get better. I started keeping a journal which I wrote every day, recording my ups and downs, my insights and feelings. This period was without doubt the toughest time of my life – I felt very alone and scared and very poorly.
Three months later, in November my GP agreed to my request for an MRI scan. That is when the cervical tumour was spotted and a subsequent tissue biopsy revealed this to be the primary tumour.
Despite the fact that he was now in his 80’s, my dad remained my rock always supportive. He just said that he believed I could heal and that I should follow my gut feeling as to what was the right way. Since my childhood cancer, he and I had sadly witnessed up close the devastating effects that conventional medicine can have. My beloved sister Caroline had been diagnosed with liver cancer nine years earlier and died soon after starting chemotherapy. My Mum also died of cancer, though she had refused chemotherapy and radiotherapy – her death came when she was 79, 15 years after her initial diagnosis. She had kept her disease at bay using diet, herbs and supplements.
I was fortunate to have an inheritance which took the pressure off me. My Dad also offered financial help. My whole focus was on recovery – it felt as though every minute of every day was spent on healing myself. Various doctors of natural medicine and healers helped in their own ways, but I couldn’t find one person whom I trusted to over-see my care. I kept records of all my tests and made it my business to become my own health expert. I never saw the cancer as my enemy, but rather as a sick part of me that needed my love and support in order to heal.
I have never believed that disease is a random thing. I began to dig deep in to myself regarding what it was about my life that had caused me to manifest this disease. I needed to see what it was that my body was showing me on a soul level. I had to admit that I had not been prioritising my own health and well-being for quite some time. I have since come to realise that it seems a common pattern for people who get cancer to take care of others’ needs before their own.
I learned how cancer can only grow when certain conditions in the body are present ie: high acidity, chronic inflammation, low oxygen. I knew that unless I changed these conditions that the cancer would continue to grow, so I learned to treat my energy as though it was the most precious thing on earth. After all, I needed all of it for my healing.
I recognised that I was carrying a lot of unresolved grief regarding the deaths of my sister and mum whom I desperately missed, and there were unresolved emotional issues still affecting me from past relationships. My work was to release these emotions which included left-over life disappointments, resentments, anger, sadness and bitterness. To start with, I didn’t know how I was going to do this, but I trusted that I would find the answers.
This was the pattern for my whole healing journey: I could not see the whole path to wellness, only where to put my foot down next. I held the image of myself as happy and well.
Despite the fact that from the outside, it looked as though my life was going seriously wrong, I chose to trust what was happening on this journey. Inevitably though, there were many times when I felt utter despair and lay in bed at night feeling absolutely terrified. When these feelings arose, I chose to feel them completely – whatever happened. I saw that my disease had been largely caused by my attempts to avoid or deny my deepest emotional pain.
Although the first months were the hardest, I took heart from various encounters. I visited the Penny Brohn Centre in Bristol for a two- day retreat, and was inspired to learn that Penny had healed herself naturally without conventional medicine. A wonderful gynaecologist called Avril offered me an antidote to the doom-laden hospital conviction that I could not possibly heal myself. Avril told me that even though it was very hard to heal this type of cancer, it was possible. Two weeks with a shaman in Devon helped me to release some of the painful emotions I was carrying. I started to listen to Abraham-Hicks on a daily basis who talks about the importance of changing our vibration in order to heal.
Unsure of whether I was winning and seriously concerned by the buildup of fluid in my tummy and lungs, I made the choice to go to the Klinik St Georg, in Bad Aibling, Germany for some hyperthermia (in which the body is exposed to high temperatures to damage and kill cancer cells and to make them more sensitive to the effects of cancer drugs) and Insulin Potentiated Chemotherapy (IPT). Whilst I was there, I had 6 ½ litres of fluid removed from my abdomen and lungs which in itself made me feel a lot better! When they analysed the fluid, they told me that it was full mainly of dead cancer cells and white blood cells. It seemed that my immune system was indeed doing a great job of killing the cancer, but that the fluid was not able to drain properly.
I went ahead and had three rounds of the IPT in three weeks. IPT delivers much lower than normal (as low as one tenth) chemotherapy doses, combined with insulin. Initially, you fast for 12 hours, lowering the blood sugar, then the insulin and glucose is introduced intravenously on the tail of which comes the chemotherapy. Cancer cells which have huge amounts of receptor-sites on their cell membranes become very active all of a sudden and it is therefore they that receive the toxic chemotherapy.
Whilst in Germany, I developed a deep-vein thrombosis in my leg and also had a brain haemorrhage which led to my having a brain scan.
The scan revealed that I had brain tumours, and I was advised to go home and have Gamma Knife treatment to deal with these. As it turned out, I needed no medical intervention. Back home, I sought a second opinion from the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, they told me unequivocally that I was dying. They advised palliative chemotherapy and warned that without it, I would be in unbearable pain within eight weeks. I chose not to take the chemotherapy. They say the darkest night comes before the dawn and for me this was certainly the case. I began for the first time to accept that I was possibly not going to survive.
It was January 2008 when I hit my lowest low. I was constantly tired, despondent and now thanks to the brain haemorrhage, which had affected my visual cortex I couldn’t see properly. I knew I did not want to struggle along in this state for much longer. I had to either die soon – or get well soon – either option was preferable to this miserable existence. My faith had worn thin and at this particular point in time I did not believe that I could heal. I started to plan my suicide; however, I noticed that as soon as I started making plans, albeit to kill myself, my life-force returned. This showed me how much the feeling of being empowered actually affects body energy. This fascinated me and gave me hope.
I had let go of the need to struggle against death – something in me relaxed deeply as I realised that the very worst thing that could happen was that I would have to start again in a new body (I don’t believe that death is the end). I was, however starting to contemplate the huge effect that my suicide would have on all those close to me and I realised that it was not a viable option.
I began to consider the other option – getting well quickly. I knew that this was what I really wanted and that maybe I had not allowed myself to heal yet, as I did not truly believe it was possible. With that clarity, life just seemed to open up in front of me: two close friends contacted me within days, both asking if I had heard about Bruce Lipton. He is a cellular biologist who made the discovery that DNA expression could change according to the thoughts that we think. His ground-breaking research was beginning to rock medical thinking and he was recommending a process called PSYCH-K which could actually change our sub-conscious beliefs. I began working with Mary Trenfield who was teaching and facilitating sessions in PK and felt as though I was being completely rewired for health!
I started to get very inspired about the herbs I should be taking. I read about and began working with a combination that I hadn’t tried before – Chapparal, Red Clover and Goldenseal. I also did a powerful breath workshop – at times I felt as though I could actually feel tumours popping!
Within only eight weeks of discovering PK, a scan revealed that my brain tumours had almost gone – by June 2008, just 10 months after my initial diagnosis, my brain, my cervix and my ovaries were free of cancer. My Bristol gynaecologist decided that I must have had a very powerful and delayed reaction to the IPT!
I would not wish this disease on my worst enemy, but I know that cancer has given me so much. It has been such a strong teacher for me and enabled me to know myself in a way I could never have done without it. Also I have been shown what is important and what is not important in life. I now understand that I do not have to prove that I am worthy, or justify my existence. I have been shown that I am the creator of my own reality and discovered for myself that the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is love.
Both my cancer experiences helped me to reconnect to the magic of life – I cannot take life for granted ever again.
I call cancer the disease of transformation.
Fiona Shakeela Burns