This is the first post in a series written by Rumble founder Paul Underhill for his personal health and wellness blog, The Rumble Life.
Paul was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at six months of age, and not expected to live past his teen years. Thanks to advances in treatment, transplant techniques, and our understanding of cystic fibrosis, Paul outlived every prediction. Fifty years (!) and a double-lung transplant later, Paul's still here.
Today, Paul continues his health and healing journey, by researching and trying the latest in holistic health practices. We hope you're as stoked as we are to follow along!
I’m writing to you today from Germany. It’s a bit of story how I landed here in the midst of COVID-19 concerns. Here’s how it came to be:
In late July, my older (and only!) brother John was told he has terminal cancer - stage 4 colon cancer, to be precise (the same type Chadwick Boseman just died from). John was informed he had a 4.2cm tumour (now 5.3cm) in his liver, and 5 probable lung metastases.
Given that the cancer was caught super early in a routine colonoscopy, and his last CT in December was all clear, this came as a huge surprise and was a massive blow to him and our whole family.
After a frank discussion with his oncologist, John learned that without chemo he might have 6 months to live, while with chemo he might get up to 2 ½ to 3 years. Brutal.
This news was even heavier as we just lost a good friend’s family member to the exact same diagnosis and prognosis. He did the chemo, and lived for 2 years but the last 18 months was simply awful – daily extreme nausea, and in bed almost 24/7 for the last year of his life.
John was told it would be about 5-6 weeks before he could start the chemo. We are not a family that takes things lying down, and as the ‘go-to’ resource in the family for all things health related, I did my best to help my brother look into options.
Rather than wait to start chemo, with my assistance he selected a treatment approach that optimizes nutrition and offers a holistic approach to help manage a disease where chemo is normally the only option available at this stage.
Instead of simply attacking the tumour, the idea is to strengthen the patient’s immune system in hopes of preventing the cancer from growing and spreading.
The catch? The best clinic we could find dedicated to this approach was in Germany.
Time to Fly
Even though I'm immunosuppressed myself, I couldn't let my brother fly off to Germany, in the middle of a pandemic, alone, with the possibility of such little time left together.
There was also the possibility that maybe I, too, could find some health and healing in Deutschland. A double-lung transplant doesn't fix cystic fibrosis, it just gives you more room to breathe. I continue to take a cocktail of medications to battle chronic rejection, but my lung capacity is slowly decreasing. Maybe the clinics in Europe could offer me something, as well.
So here we are, together, in Germany, having braved the transatlantic flight and airports. We took a great health risk for our health. Crazy, right?
John's clinic offers 'integrated oncology' by taking the very best of naturopathic approaches and conventional medicine (e.g. thermal ablation treatment). There are twelve aspects to the patient’s ‘terrain’ that are addressed through a variety of treatments, but a couple of the most important ones happen to be three aspects critical to my own self care. These are good for all of us to incorporate if we don't already:
Mindfulness + Attitude
The doctor here provided us with a robust study from the Journal of Clinical Oncology that shows patients given nine hours of counselling in addition to surgery had 110% better survival rates at ten years compared to those who received surgery alone! If there was a drug that could improve ten-year survival rates by half that amount, it would make front page headlines. But somehow my brother’s oncologist in Canada didn’t mention this to him.
There's more I'll say about this later, but the clinic here advises a diet of balanced macronutrients with less than 100g of carbohydrates per day, and an emphasis on quality protein, healthy fats, good fibre and hearty servings of vegetables and fruits. Not too surprising, but helpful in its simplicity given the recommendations from other health advocates that range from super high-carb juicing diets to extreme Keto (less than 20g carbohydrates). Bonus - the food served here is incredibly delicious!
ExerciseOnce again, backed by science is the recommendation to get at least 20 minutes of moderate (heart rate over 120 bpm) exercise three times per week. Doing so improves outcomes for cancer patients. Yet somehow, less than 25% of oncologists refer patients to exercise programming.
Clearly, we need to get the message out.
Read more on Paul's blog: The Rumble Life.
Follow Paul on Instagram: @therumbleguy