Fasting and the Mind/Body Connection 

 

STAYING SANE AND WELL IN THE FACE OF REAL TROUBLE 

When the cancer drama started (and I feel pretty sure for everyone who hears that diagnosis there is a whole lot of drama) one of my friends insisted that I should get the Moss Report. Dr. Ralph Moss is a research analyst, not a medical doctor, but a PhD. His specialty is gathering all the current research on various types of cancers. He then compiles this research into his reports, and critiques all the results. I called the number on the website (http://www.cancerdecisions.com) and ordered his reports on liver cancer, the main culprit I was dealing with, and endometrial cancer. I received the reports by email. They are not inexpensive, and it was a lot to read and digest. But I did read them and the one bit of research that I found the most interesting of all was the concept of fasting before and after a chemo treatment. Most of this research had been done with mice. I can’t understand why more hasn’t been done with humans, as it doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t interfere with the chemo. The research showed that the mice who were in a fasted state handled the chemo better with fewer side effects, and they also seemed to get a better result from the chemo itself. This made perfect sense to me. It is a lot for your body to process the drugs from chemo therapy. They are going into your body to attack cells, and they don’t discriminate between cancer cells and healthy cells. If your body isn’t trying to process and deal with all that digestion involves at the same time as all that Weird Science (my definition of chemo and radiation) then it makes sense that the job can be done more efficiently. Moss recommended fasting for 48 hours before and 48 hours after a treatment. That seemed a bit extreme to me, so I decided to do 24 hours before and 24 hours afterwards, making it a 48 hour fast that I was doing once every three weeks for 18 weeks. What I mean by fast is consuming no food or nourishment of any kind, only water. I am sure that the fasting contributed to the weight loss, but I think the benefits were more important than this obvious side effect. My chemo oncologist didn’t approve of the fasts because he was concerned about the weight loss, but he didn’t give me a whole lot of trouble about it either. I feel I really got a break when I got my chemo oncologist. He is a great guy. Young, upbeat, open-minded, and he always made me feel like I was going to make it. I eventually told him about every alternative thing I was doing. By the time I told him about the blue scorpion venom (I saved that one for last) I was seeing extremely good results. His ultimate response was, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” He was curious about all the things I told him about, and he never made me question any of them. He didn’t judge, he listened. 
The fasts were a stretch in discipline for me. I had never had any interest in fasting, one way or the other. When you think about it, in almost ever religion fasting is suggested as a way to achieve a heightened awareness. It is seen as a way for the spirit to triumph over the flesh. When a devotee has the ability to put the yearnings of the flesh aside, they move closer to the world of the spirit. What fasting reinforces is that the mind can have power over the body. That is a very important thing to realize when the physical body is being attacked by disease. The insidious thing about cancer is that while your body is under attack by the disease, your mind is as well. Your greatest enemy can be your own thoughts. The fasting experience teaches you control, not only over your body, but also over your thoughts. So, at least for me, the fasting was a way to make my life easier by making the chemo go easier, and it was also an aid to keeping my thoughts on the path to wellness rather than the path of fear. It helped me to feel I was in control of my body, at least in this regard. And, that felt very empowering. Most spiritual traditions see life as a battle between the flesh and the spirit. Personally, I think the ideal state would be for the mind and the body to exist in balance and harmony. That state of existence is what wellness looks like to me. Disease is the opposite, and the result is the lack of ease between the mind and the body.  I have gone from a feeling of disease to a feeling of ease. I believe the fasting was a very important and beneficial part of this journey.