On August 25, my daughter called to tell me that our friend Dativa Gensi had succumbed to breast cancer. Dativa was married to Robert Gensi, a family friend with whom we had stayed in the great Lumumba hall at Makerere University.
I had hoped that she would at least live to participate in the cancer run recently organised by the Rotary fraternity in Uganda. Listening to the eloquent and sincere eulogy by Gensi about his dear wife at St Francis chapel in Makerere University, I felt a sense of responsibility to write something about cancer.
As I thought about what to write, I remembered a message I received, about ten years ago, from my old colleague at the Rotary club of Westlands, Nairobi. It was about how we can lead lives that avoid cancer, to some extent. I am convinced that many readers of this paper have lost someone to cancer.
I have personally lost a number. My cousin, Florence Alele, was consumed by breast cancer in 1992, followed by Jayres Bigari in 2009 and sister-in-law Jolly Turyomurundo in April last year.
What we can do, is a question that all should ask. First, we need basic information about the monster, starting with where it comes from. Science has shown that every person has cancer cells in the body that do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billions. So, when told that one has no cancer, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells as yet.
Scientists say that when a person’s immune system is g, the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumours. This is one of the areas where we need to focus our attention. Members of the Rotary fraternity, together with well-wishers, are supporting the building of a cancer ward to help treat those with the disease. However, we need to think beyond this. It is clear that we need more research in order to fashion a complete, multidisciplinary approach to dealing with this scourge.
Should cancer be looked at from the medicine point of view only? No. Cancer, like most other non-communicable diseases, needs a multipronged approach. Social scientists, oncologists, physicians, natural scientists, food scientistsnutritionists, psychologists and the rest need to come together and find solutions to the problem.
Multidisciplinary research should shed more light on how cancer cells survive, thrive, and multiply. In the process, researchers will aise on how we should protect ourselves better.
There is one point that is clear already: both scientists and medical doctors tell us we must begin building our own bodies to combat the disease. In particular, we need to boost our immune systems. Here are some places to begin:
Cut sugar from your diet. Scientists have shown that cancer cells feed on sugar. To that extent, if one cuts off sugar from their diet, he denies a critical ingredient to the cancer cells. They propose the use of natural substitutes such as honey and molasses, which should also be used in very small amounts. Many people I have spoken to express the view that “when you listen so much to dieticians and doctors, you will not eat anything!” But it is necessary to listen a bit because the pain that comes with cancer is as excruciating as the waste is devastating.
Reduce consumption of dairy products.We have also learnt that milk and dairy products generally cause the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. And since cancer cells feed on mucus, too, one can deny them food by cutting off milk and substituting it with unsweetened soya milk or porridge (sorghum or millet).
Cut back on acidic foods and drinks.Cancer cells also thrive in an acid environment. Such is provided by a meat-based diet. Hence, science aises that we eat more of fish, and a little chicken rather than bee for pork. We are also aised to avoid taking foods and drinks with high levels of caffeine such as coffee, tea, and chocolate. We should, instead, concentrate on green tea. We should drink purified or filtered water to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water.
Balance the ‘biological terrain.’A diet with a very high percentage of fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. Live enzymes for building healthy cells can be obtained from drinking fresh vegetable juice and eating some raw vegetables a number of times every day.
Regular consumption of greens such as black jack (enyabarashana) and stinging nettle (ekicuragyenyi in Runyankore-Rukiga) is recommended. The bottom line is that an effective way to battle cancer is by starving its cells.
This can be ensured by exercising the body in order to provide enough oxygen. Exercising on a daily basis and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Avoid alcohol and drug abuse. The story of tobacco as a cause of different cancers is an old one readers of this column should know it.
We have to learn to live with others and accept their decisions and actions to avoid unnecessary stress. Avoid traffic jam (rage) too. Other than that, the government ought to get more interested in cancer as a killer which deprives the country of human resources. Cancer, like any other non-communicable disease, should be looked at both as a medical issue as well as a socio-economic issue.
The state should strengthen regulations that would help reduce the risk of cancer. Control chemicals that are imported into the country. Scientists have suggested that there are some acaricides, herbicides and other chemicals that are detrimental to human life. Some of them have been banned in developed countries and find their way to the Third World.
Examples include DDT. We should also regulate dangerous new technologies such as those that are said to expose users to radiation. Laws relating to sale of expired goods must be enforced. Government should pay scientists well, to retain them. It should also facilitate health research especially in the area of cancer.
Ultimately, it is important to appreciate that cancer requires a multipronged approach, as it is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. Anger, vindictiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment in which cancer cells thrive. We should adopt a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.
The author is an education expert.
Source : The Observer