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Living Healthily and Happily

Huang Liang Ming

I am a cancer patient. I hope that this article will give you an understanding of the illness, and that you will take the necessary precautions against it.

Cancer patients not only have to suffer the physical pains and the foul smell of the body, but also mental torment with the thought of facing death. On top of that, there are financial burdens which the family members have to face and experience with great stress. Many may already know about this, yet there are still many who do not believe that it would happen to them, and therefore they do not take precautions. Even if the illness is cured, no doctor or physician can confidently guarantee a complete recovery. Although all the cancer cells may be temporarily destroyed, if the cause of the illness still exists, there is likely to be a relapse. Therefore, cancer patients need to permanently maintain physical and spiritual balance.

The cause of nasal cancer is still unclear although doctors claim that there are some connections to infection due to the “EB virus”. As for me, it could be due to the fact that I am a smoker. It was the year when I started my career as an instructor. I was watching television one day when I touched my neck and discovered a small lump about the size of a peanut below my ear lobe. When my fingers pushed it, it seemed to bounce randomly. It did not itch nor was it painful, but my intuition told me that something was not right. At that time, I did not feel anything unusual physically except for a little tiredness.

When the school term started, I was very busy. However, my colleagues met with road accidents quite frequently, so I had many opportunities to visit them in the hospital. As there was an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist in the hospital, I decided to consult the doctor. My blood was tested, and an X-ray was taken. Suspecting that it was only an infection of the lymph node, I was prescribed with some antibiotics pills and asked to return a week later. The lump remained a week later. I decided to get a second opinion from another hospital. The physician examined the lump and kept shaking his head. The laboratory results indicated some suspicion, but the doctor could not confirm. A series of laboratory tests and suspicions by the doctor led me to feel very down. Finally, “Judgement Day” arrived, and the doctors’ expression indicated bad news. They confirmed that it was cancer. I was stunned and helpless and cold sweat kept pouring from my forehead to my legs. A nurse consoled me and whispered that cancer doesn’t mean death and encouraged me to be optimistic or else I might not be able to handle it. My wife held my hand tightly and remarked that the battle has just begun. She would be by my side to take care of me until I regained my health.

December 14th was my first encounter with radiotherapy. The one-minute treatment seemed like a year. There was a burning smell for the first few seconds, and I felt tired. If the radiation was on the left neck, the right neck would swell. Daily radiation was painful. However, when there was no treatment on weekends, the situation worsened. The seven to eight weeks of radiation had adverse effects on my body as well. Fortunately, doctors confirmed that the cancer cells did not spread, therefore there was no chemotherapy treatment required. For the first two weeks, my saliva glands started to malfunction, and my mouth was constantly feeling very dry. I lost my sense of taste, had a sore throat, and had lots of phlegm. The skin on my neck and face turned red, my nose was blocked, I had a loss of appetite and a lack of energy prevailed. That one-minute daily treatment was hell. On the third week, my face and neck turned purplish-red due to the constant radiation. The burning pain together with the winter cold was unbearable. I was feeling down, short tempered and fiery.

Come January 5th, I had undergone sixteen hours of radiotherapy. It was the darkest period of my treatment. My mouth rotted; my throat was badly sored. By the end of the month, it has been the longest and most painful time of my life. Swallowing saliva was like cutting my throat, the piercing pain was burning, food became tasteless, and I was unable to drink. However, to maintain my energy level, I forced myself to eat. A meal took me two hours, my face was full of tears. It was emotional and physical torture for me.

During the treatment period, my teeth were badly damaged due to radiotherapy. My gums were infected, and my teeth became very sensitive to cold, heat and solid foodstuff. Eating became a massive task. I decided to adapt a vegetarian diet. I brushed my teeth after every meal and hence the damage was not too great. I drank fig leaves boiled with water, which had a cooling effect on me.

One and a half months of treatment came to an end. The rest was up to me. Many patients presumed that the end of treatment meant recovery. This is a very dangerous and wrong perception.

One of my good friends, who is also a cancer patient, ended his chemotherapy treatment earlier than me. But cancer cells spread to his liver in March the same year and he died in May. Another passed away in June, then one in July…. if one could survive the first year, then there is hope. But there are still people who pass away on the second year, the third year and so on. By the fifth year, the opportunity for relapse is small, therefore the possibility of death is smaller.

I started preserving my health after my treatment. I let myself be filled with joy; meditated; stuck to a vegetarian diet with little oil, salt and no MSG; practiced Qigong and did light exercise. I have lived healthily and happily for four years. Although thin, I am in the pink of health and felt energetic.

When I was at the initial stage of my illness, many “representative” and “specialists” rushed to my residence to promote their “guaranteed effective”, “top class” health food. If I refused to buy their products, they would not barge. They would stay at my place for the whole afternoon till midnight. When under treatment, my body was already weak and I still had to attend to such tiring attacks, it was really difficult. The family members of the patients suffered too, as they were already helpless and still had to spend money on such products. It was worse for those who were financially weak.

By a stroke of good luck, I accepted and practiced some physical and mental relaxation methods. It definitely helped me in regaining vitality and building up my self-confidence. I went to a university in Taiwan to learn the use of electricity on the body to activate the acupuncture points. This increases the energy level of the body and helps enhance the body’s resistance. This continued for three months and was the main reason for my stable condition.

A book entitled “Pursuit of Life” authored by Dr. Chiu-Nan Lai, which I borrowed out of curiosity and read carefully led me to accept a vegetarian diet and the reasons behind it. At the same time, I practiced a kind of Qigong from mainland China called “Xiang-gong” (香功) an hour a day for three years. I felt that it was very effective. This complimented a method I learnt on regulating my breath.

I frequently used meditation to calm my mind and increase my energy level. I notice that we worry about many things such as gain, loss, praise, libel, fame, reputation, etc. This is a burden on our mind and body, as it dissipates a lot of energy. If we could regulate our thoughts and relax ourselves, energy will naturally be created. When I meditate, I sit on a chair without leaning against its back. I would sit in a lotus position, relax the forehead and put on a gentle smile, relax the knees and ankles, with both palms on the legs, and breathe naturally. I would then visualize a beautiful scene with dragon flies by the lake, water flowing, insects calling, birds chirping …. or I would think of my happiest moments, calm myself and reduce scattered thoughts to conserve energy. I started my meditation sessions with ten minutes, and gradually extended them to thirty minutes. (stop)

Practicing Qigong enhances our physiological ability and helps our bodies to fight against illnesses. One needs to relax when practicing Qigong and have a joyful and peaceful heart. The best time to practice is in the morning, in places where there are trees and water; pine trees will be ideal. People who practice Qigong are usually happy, as bottled feelings could be released. There are cases where swellings disappear after practicing it. Xiang-gong and breath regulating exercises have very simple actions. They are beneficial to the elderly who have chronic illnesses or cancer patients. I spend many hours on both and do not feel tired at all.

The greatest help after my treatment was the concepts Dr. Lai talked about in her book: to face cancer, heal it, and prevent it. In short, Joy+Qigong+Regligious Belief = Happiness and Health.

Dr. Lai holds the view that cancer is not difficult to get by if one is happy and relaxed, as most chronic diseases including cancer are related to emotions. For instance, when one who has lost a spouse, body resistance will be low. Agitation may lead to heart attacks and suppressed emotions may lead to cancer. Patients who have the warmth and care of family members and friends recover faster than loners. One should confide one’s troubles and worries with others. True happiness is giving love without worrying about reciprocation by others losing. Put greed, hatred, jealousy, ego and misery aside. Being joyful is a precious asset. Smile and laugh as much as possible; all the health, happiness, longevity and even wealth, that we had wanted, will be ours.

With regards to adopting a healthy diet, Dr. Lai believes that natural healing through vegetarianism is the best medicine. Many feel that cancer is deadly and hopeless. There is too much fear in it but this perception must be changed. Cancer can be cured and prevented. She hopes that people will consume less fatty foods, eat more greens, fruits and grains, take less oil, salt, sugar, MSG, alcohol and cut down on carcinogenic foodstuff, and avoid going to smoke-filled amusement parks. Strictly abiding by these rules will cut down the threat of contracting cancer and prevent its occurrence.

The causes of cancer are many. Therefore, treatment should be multi-faceted. It is most important to build up the patient’s body resistance and vitality by focusing on the diet for prevention and cure. One’s diet can improve one’s physical condition; hence a strict diet is important. In addition, the use of herbs and health teas, together with Qigong will produce good results. Of course, it is helpful to have an optimistic outlook towards life.

Dr. Lai also said that man’s glut and craving for meat, refined sugar, refined rice, refined noodles, MSG and refined industrial food leaves the body with toxins that could not be discharged, hence poisoning the body. In actual fact, eating meat is eating dead food; stopping this will cause one to resume good health. Consuming natural chlorophyll, organic fruits and vegetables will provide the body with proteins, minerals, fats and carbohydrates. Eskimos, due to their environment, have meats and fats as their main diet. Not only do they mature young, but they die young as well. Their average life span is only twenty-seven years. People in culture where fruits and vegetables are the main diet live longer and are in good health.

The Chinese have for many thousands of years been consuming green vegetables, tofu and simple food. Except for festive celebrations, they are mainly vegetarians, hence their good health. However, the recent industrialization has negative development. Daily consumption of fish and meat plus refined food has created a host of modern diseases.

I am now planting wheatgrass and drinking its juice and I drink plenty of carrot juice too. Vegetables purchased from organic outlets, though more expensive, is healthy and good.

My efforts towards recovery has given me health and happiness and I begin to see light again!