Healing with Homeopathy
by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman,
ND, DHANP and Robert Ullman,
Heal Thyself: Cancer as a Path to Gratitude
A New Year's Surprise
We hope we don't disappoint all of you avid homeopathic practitioners
and enthusiasts, but we chose to write this month about another personally
compelling health matter: my (Judyth's) successful healing from breast
cancer. It has been a tremendous learning experience for us and, we
hope, may be for some of our readers. The diagnosis, as probably happens
with most women, took me by surprise to say the least. About to turn
50, I felt healthier than ever before. I had gotten down to 120 pounds
thanks to the Zone Diet. I have a wonderful husband and friends, love
my work, feel quite inspired spiritually, and live in one of the most
beautiful places in the world. For the past five years I had a nagging,
pulling sensation around my left armpit, but my mammograms and ultrasounds
were consistently normal except for an increasing tendency to benign
cysts in the left breast. The sensation began shortly after my fifth
miscarriage, so I attributed the changes to the hormonal fluctuations
of the pregnancies. I did, however, develop a fear of breast cancer
at that time.
In January my saga began when I was awakened in the middle of the night
with excruciating pain in my left breast. The burning pain intensified
over the next few days along with chills and a slight discharge from
the nipple. It sounded to us like an acute mastitis. I took homeopathic
Carbo animalis which fit the local symptoms, and the pain improved dramatically
within two days. I called my favorite radiologist, Irv Schiller, who
had read all of my past mammograms. Irv, a benevolent, fatherly Jewish
man who prays at his synagogue every morning, assured me that all was
probably well but that he would like to repeat the mammogram as soon
as the inflammation had subsided. Then he took us aside and inspired
us with some heartwarming Jewish stories and shared with us the Hebrew
mantra Gam Zu La Tova, which means "May Everything Work Out For
the Best." It was a beautiful experience, not what you would expect
to find at your typical mammogram appointment.
When the pain and discharge had largely subsided, I went back shortly
afterwards for another mammogram. Although the mammogram still did not
appear suspicious, the change in the breast tissue and the intensity
of the recent symptoms bothered Irv. An expert at reading mammograms
day in and day out, he sensed something was wrong. With the aid of a
magnifying glass, he carefully inspected my mammogram and was able to
detect microcalcifications in the symptomatic area. Or so he thought
because he still wasn't sure if they were really there. "You know,"
Irv confided, "I don't want to alarm you, but I think this is a
carcinoma in situ." The words we had dreaded. "You need to
see a breast surgeon right away. If you were my wife," he continued,
"I'd send you to Diane Jones."
Diane squeezed me in the next day after her surgeries. The breast examination
and slide were inconclusive. Maybe a benign growth called a papilloma,
maybe carcinoma in situ. The only way to know for sure was a stereotactic
biopsy, an elaborate and expensive digital mammogram done in a hospital
outpatient setting. A ductogram, Diane recommended, was also advisable
in order to rule out a papilloma or other ductal involvement. We left
her office feeling positive and upbeat then called the next day to schedule
the procedures. The tests would hopefully set our minds at ease.
We continued meditating and hoping for the best. The ductogram was
no fun. They say that the breast is not a nerve-rich area, however inserting
five tubes of gradually increasing size into the nipple in order to
insert dye into the ducts was one of the more uncomfortable experiences
of my life. Whoever says there's no significant nerve sensation in the
breast should try a ductogram. Or maybe it was a man who came up with
that theory. The stereotactic biopsy came next. After a rather gruelling
hour of attempting to localize the microcalcifications in order to perform
the biopsy, the radiologist ultimately met with success. I was assured
that I would be called with the results the next day.
There was no phone call. Now I know that life or death feeling that
many patients feel as they wait by their phones for their doctors to
call. Diane did call the next day. The test was conclusive, she explained.
No doubt about it. Every sample came back positive for ductal carcinoma
in situ (DCIS). She guessed it had been around for five years or so.
You Get What You Need
Those first few days were pretty shocking. The first realization I
had loud and clear, which has persisted throughout the entire experience,
is my strong desire to live a long, healthy life. I love life and feel
like I have many more years to enjoy and contribute. Lots more books
to write, patients to help, unexplored travels, flowers, sunsets, precious
moments with Bob, puppies, opportunities for contemplation and bliss.
There was a momentary flash of feeling sorry for myself, of wondering
why I had lost the odds of one woman in eight who develop breast cancer.
Then it became evident that I simply needed to move forward, to seek
out every appropriate avenue that came to me, to find the healers that
could best help, and to remain as positive and spiritually connected
as possible at every moment.
It worked. From that time on, I received absolutely everything I needed
and lots more. Susan Love's Breast Book helped enormously as did the
internet. For a cancer the size of mine, the universal recommendation
was mastectomy. With a mastectomy alone I would have only a zero to
two percent likelihood of recurrence in the same breast and a 12 to
15% chance in the other breast, which is not much more than the one
in eight risk of any woman getting cancer. The odds with mastectomy
were excellent. I adopted a practical, survival-seeking attitude towards
the idea of a mastectomy. I could live with one breast. Most of all
I wanted to live. Since, by definition, DCIS was noninvasive, no radiation,
chemotherapy, or Tamoxifen would be necessary. I still wonder if I could
have remained as positive and life-affirming if I really thought the
cancer was invasive.
The amount of support with which I was blessed was phenomenal. Every
friend and patient who I told about the cancer was as shocked as I was.
One of my closest friends was convinced that the radiologist must have
read someone else's slides. "How," everyone asked, "could
someone who seemed so healthy" get breast cancer? That remains
as a big question for me. I have heard that many women are diagnosed
with breast cancer just when they feel they are most vibrant and alive.
Ultimately, however, few of us ever learn specifically why we develop
cancer. And, unless removing the physical, environmental, emotional,
or spiritual cause is possible, it may not ultimately matter why we
got cancer.What seems most important to me is what we learn from the
experience, how it brings us closer to God and to our own truth, and
how it enhances the love in our lives. My family, friends, and patients,
with very few exceptions, assured me that I would be fine.
Within a day or two of being diagnosed, I happened to see a patient
of mine who is a breast cancer survivor. She shared some words of wisdom
that still remain deeply imprinted on my mind: "One thing is sure.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer helps a woman to get her priorities
straight. And fast." I have found that women who have had breast
cancer themselves are a tremendous source of information, encouragement,
and wisdom. They are willing to take time out of their busy lives to
listen and share. I hope that I never forget that, when friends, patients,
acquaintances, and strangers with breast cancer seek me out for support
in the future.
Speaking about priorities, being diagnosed with breast cancer was not
on my 1998 "to-do" list. I had planned a wonderful celebration
of my 50th birthday with friends followed by a three-week trip to New
Zealand. We had signed up to hike the Milford Track, one of the most
gorgeous hikes in the world, and had planned to drive New Zealand tip
to tip, and to give a presentation at an international homeopathic conference
in Auckland. It became obvious that we would need to cancel the trip
and that the three weeks would instead be a time for surgery and recovery.
Ironically, it was the first trip we had ever taken where we purchased
trip insurance, only because of the precarious health of my elderly
mother. That call to Quantas to cancel our reservations was agonizing.
A Team of Healers
I had heard others with cancer talk about their network of healers.
I knew that I could attract to me exactly those people who could best
serve me in my healing process. It became quickly obvious that I wanted
a breast reconstruction at the time of surgery and that the state-of-the-art
procedure was called a free flap. An eight to nine hour surgery in which
a new breast was fashioned from a tummy tuck then the circulation reconnected
with microscopic surgery; there were few surgeons expert in the method.
I found Rena Wong, an extremely talented, upbeat, and positive plastic
surgeon who had assisted Dr. Shaw at UCLA, touted by Susan Love as the
master of the free flap. Rena assured me that, because of my health
and because I had just enough of a tummy left after losing those 20
pounds, for one breast, that I was an ideal candidate for the procedure.
Though her office and her hospital of choice were nearly an hour away,
she was definitely the right surgeon. Her success rate with free flaps
was 100%. That's just what I wanted to hear. I did have a momentary
weakness the night of our meeting with Rena. Trying to be as candid
and doctor-to-doctor as possible, she explained all of the details of
the surgery in order to prepare me. We escaped to a movie that night,
me doubting whether I could actually go through with it. Bright and
early the next morning, at Rena's request, a patient of hers called
who had just undergone the same surgery six weeks before. She was such
an inspiration that I knew I, too, could do it.
I was also fortunate to meet with Dr. Glenn Warner, a compassionate,
courageous, and wise oncologist who tragically lost his medical license
in Washington. A pioneer in the field of holistic oncology, he offered
helpful advice from his years of practice.
Through other fortuitous circumstances, I was able to contact two spiritual
healers who came highly recommended, both, as it happened, from Encinitas,
California. The first, Amsheva Miller, is a lovely, softspoken , angelic,
and direct woman who learned a technique called cellular repatterning
from a healer in Madras. She just happened to be in the Seattle area
teaching her technique the weekend I was diagnosed and had time for
a healing on her way to the airport. The first time I sat with Amsheva,
I drifted in and out of a gentle trance. The overwhelming feeling was
profound peace. The most impressive result of the healing was that any
fear I had of the cancer was released. When it began to return in a
milder form a couple of weeks later, I had a telephone session with
Amsheva and again the fear was lifted and has not returned.
The following weekend I had another remarkable experience. As I sat
on an airplane next to a friend who also healed herself of breast cancer,
I devoted the hours it took to fly from Seattle to Washington, DC to
reading Deepak Chopra's Quantum Healing. I tried very hard to put his
recommendations into practice on that airplane and had a type of out-of-time-and-space
shift. It is very difficult to express in words, but those few hours
truly convinced me that I could heal myself in a different way than
I had known before. When I arrived at the hotel and changed clothes,
I was astonished to find that I had a profuse discharge from my breast.
This only happened two other times. The other spiritual healer who worked
with me may be a familiar name to some of you, Gene Egidio. Although
I had never heard of him, I was given his name by two different people.
He is quite a famous healer and has been able to help many people with
serious illnesses worldwide. Following each of Gene's brief telephone
sessions in which he emphasized I was a perfect child of God, he instructs
his clients to sleep for an hour so that the healing can take effect.
When I awoke from each of those sessions, I experienced the same heavy
discharge. I hoped this meant that the cancer was leaving my body.
Support, Support, Support
My friends, family, patients, and, most of all, my husband, Bob, really
came through in a way that filled me with deep appreciation. I received
beautiful cards and flowers which reminded me of the bounty of love
I have in my life. Some offered healings, others to arrange meals for
us after my surgery, and still others a willing ear to listen. And Bob,
my husband, he was just there. All the time. The funny part about those
six weeks between diagnosis and surgery was how clear and spiritually
connected I felt. Having just returned from a four-day New Year's retreat
at Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, California surely helped. As
the days passed, I felt more and more in tune with my higher self. I
was not depressed or angry or wanting to change places with anyone else.
A friend joked that if I kept going in that direction, maybe I'd gain
enlightenment out of the cancer experience. That I did not, but it did
bring a renewed peace and love of life.
As a homeopath, I wanted to find the most appropriate colleague to
assist me. I chose Divya Chhabra of Bombay, a highly perceptive, insightful,
and brilliant physician as well as being a charming and beautiful woman.
I am also lucky to have Divya as a friend. When she heard about my situation,
she said she would be happy to treat me and that I could see her in
Hawaii where she was giving a seminar two weeks before the scheduled
surgery.That was a wonderful experience. Divya not only took three and
a half hours to take my case in depth, but then refused to let me pay.
The same thing happened with two other naturopathic doctors, experts
in cancer, who gave me recommendations free of charge. The day before
we saw Divya we kayaked out to Kealuakekua Bay near Captain Cook monument
on the island of Hawaii. We had taken the trip twice during an earlier
trip in search of the elusive dolphins. This time we found ourselves
in the midst of 20 or 30 spinner dolphins who put on a delightful show
for us for about 40 minutes. Bob said they came to heal me.
Several people were convinced that the powerful spiritual healings
I was given had cured the cancer. At moments I, too, believed that and
certainly hoped for it. I was always certain, however, that I would
go ahead with the surgery unless I had evidence that the cancer was
gone. Although DCIS is non-invasive, no one could guarantee that it
would not turn into an invasive cancer sooner or later. It was the sooner
that troubled me and studies showed that that could even occur within
five to ten years and I probably already had it for five. A physician
told me about another woman who underwent a type of metabolic healing
at a Tijuana clinic. She, too, had DCIS. When she returned from Mexico,
her physician, having no confidence in the treatment program she had
chosen, insisted that she have a mastectomy. She followed his orders
and the biopsy of her breast revealed no cancer. Not wanting to experience
the same disappointment, I asked Diane if she could do a biopsy on the
table in order to make sure I still had breast cancer. She replied,
"Sure. We can do a frozen section. We all need to believe in miracles.
If there's no cancer, there won't be any mastectomy." This was
extremely reassuring. It also meant that once I went into surgery, I
could either come out in an hour or two cancer-free with both breasts
or eight to nine hours later with a mastectomy. I was actually able
to surrender so that whichever ended up happening I could accept.
One of the high points of my week before surgery was a terrific 50th
birthday party where I was surrounded by loving friends. So many blessings.
The party concluded with a healing circle in which I not only received
prayers and more love, but friends even sang to me. The atmosphere was
truly magical, one which I will never forget.
A couple of family crises interrupted the uncannily perfect cancer
experience, if such a thing exists. Bob's wonderful cousin, a saintly-type
art teacher of inner city kids in New York who was born only four days
after him, was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive glioblastoma (brain
tumor). It was a terrible shock to us and to his whole family. Then,
two days before the surgery, my mother's nursing home called to tell
us that my 88-year-old mother appeared to be dying. Her pupils were
pinpoint, her breathing very labored, and her lower extremities stiff
and filled with fluid. We went over immediately to assess the situation
for ourselves. My mother was unresponsive, we could not wake her, and
she looked like any breath could be her last. It seemed certain that
she would die either that day or while I was in the hospital. I spent
the day, in between patients, calling her sister and arranging with
mortuaries and rabbis to transport her body to St. Louis. I couldn't
quite believe all this was happening to me. It seemed too absurd to
The Surgery and Its Aftermath
I was supposed to fast on clear liquids and take a couple of enemas
the next day. It was odd because this was just the regimen I followed
in the past during my many juice fasts. We arrived at the hospital very
early the morning of the surgery. It was at this time that I really
began to realize I was the patient. Gown, tight stockings, IV's, the
whole bit. Bob was a godsend at the hospital. He read to me from a very
wonderful book, Silence of the Heart, by Robert Adams, a realized being
who was able to merge with divine consciousness from the age of fourteen.
By the time I went into that operating room, I felt so calm and relaxed
that I was probably halfway anesthetized already. I could hear the tape
of Primordial Sound which I had brought in, playing in the background,
and after the anesthesiologist cracked a joke, I was out cold.
The next thing I knew someone was gently shaking me announcing that
the surgery was over. I awoke with the thought "I am that I am"
and then asked what time it was so I could tell whether I had the mastectomy
or not. "Five o'clock" was the response. Okay, I thought,
no spontaneous healing after all. I was so happy to be alive.
The next four days in the hospital were just fine. Instead of being
on the ICU, I was given a private room. With a free flap surgery, this
is most practical since the room must remain at 85 degrees day and night
and the breast must remain uncovered so that it can be monitored hourly
with a doppler. There were also temperature strips to monitor the breast
to make sure that the reconnection of the circulation was successful.
The nurses were very helpful and caring, the staff allowed Bob to set
up a VCR in the room so we could watch movies, and I didn't have to
deal with hospital food because I was only on liquids the whole time.
I even had a view of Mount Rainier and Puget Sound, although I couldn't
appreciate it until the morning I left since I basically couldn't get
out of bed. A private room with a VCR, around the clock room service,
a morphine drip to keep me pain-free, and a spectacular view. What more
could you want?
On day three I started to go stir crazy. Living in a sauna, having
my legs bound in pneumatic stockings to prevent clotting, being catheterized,
and swimming in an IV, drains and an oxygen tube suddenly got to me.
Despite all of the amenities, I was ready to go home. I missed my bed
and my golden retrievers. Not to mention fresh air. I realized that
discontinuing the morphine and being able to walk around was my ticket
to freedom. After a couple of foiled attempts to even sit up in bed
due to overpowering lightheadness, I finally accomplished a successful
5-minute walk around the nursing station. I felt such gratitude for
even being able to walk that far after being flat on my back for three
days. The next morning I promptly requested that the IV and catheter
be removed and was ready for home.
Recovery: One Step at a Time
I am such an optimist and I've seen homeopathic and naturopathic medicine
work such wonders with patients after surgery. A couple of days of Arnica,
I thought, and I'll be pain-free. Wrong. Recovery has probably been
the most humbling experience of all. Finding a comfortable position
to sleep was impossible. Bob had to wash my hair for me for the first
week. I greeted the friends who delivered delicious meals in my bathrobe.
The pain was intense. Percocet made me nauseated and taking homeopathic
Tabacum to relieve the nausea got old. I tried Ibuprofen for the first
time ever and it gave me heartburn. The side effects were worse than
the cure so I opted to deal with the pain without drugs.
Day by day things slowly improved. They say you feel after surgery
like you've been hit by a mack truck. That didn't happen to me. Other
than a nap here and there for the first week to ten days, my energy
was surprisingly good, especially my mental energy. I enjoyed reading
from the very beginning and within days I found myself back at the computer
working on our next book. But I kept my commitment to not see or even
discuss any patients for three weeks. Bob took ten days off his practice
beginning with the surgery and met my every need. Then he went back
to the office and cared for my patients as well as his. It's no wonder
that, by the time I eventually went back to work, he was exhausted.
Even though my recovery is ahead of schedule according to my surgeon
and she's thrilled with my progress and has already had two prospective
free flap patients call me for encouragement, I'm amazed at how long
a full recovery takes. As I write this article, six weeks post-surgery,
I am back at work full-time. We travelled to San Diego a week ago to
give presentations at a national homeopathy conference. I continue to
work on our book, cook meals, and am even starting to pull weeds, do
yoga, and have a tennis lesson scheduled this week. However the pain
persists more than I would have thought. A patient I saw last week had
a tummy tuck. "Give it three months till the pain's gone and a
year till the scars are no longer red." And my surgery was much
more extensive than hers. It was very helpful to have a reality check.
An Attitude of Gratitude
I am thankful in many ways for having had cancer. It has brought me
much closer to friends who I have sometimes neglected due to what I
thought were higher priorities. It has made me feel a closer bond than
ever with Bob. I believe that I am much better able to understand what
people go through who have cancer and other serious illnesses. I feel
more committed than ever, despite my positive experience, to help my
patients avoid surgery if at all possible. I thank my healers and every
person who in any way helped me through this challenging time. I am
so grateful that my mother has not only survived but, thanks to her
being taken off of her own pain medication and to our giving her a homeopathic
remedy, is doing better than she has in months. Instead of being too
confused and disoriented to even understand that I had breast cancer,
she is a delight and has finally asked for a television, radio, to walk
again, and I can read her the letters from the 1930's that my father
wrote to her. Unfortunately, Bob's cousin, John, did not fare so well.
He died two weeks ago of his brain tumor at 46 years old. Diagnosed
within a week of each other, only by the grace of God do I live and
did he die. I have been forced to confront my greatest fear and have
found the greatest peace. Sure, my body's a bit rearranged but women
who have gone through it assure me that in time I will forget about
it entirely, although I do want to remember the personal lessons I learned
about love, God, friends, and courage. Already, in clothes, no one could
ever tell what I went through. I will surely get twice-a-year mammograms
for awhile and Irv will undoubtedly take a magnifying glass to each
of them. And we did reschedule our trip to New Zealand for next year.
In fact it's an even better trip. Truly the only words I have to say
are "Thank you."
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are licensed naturopathic
physicians board-certified in homeopathy. President and Vice President
of the International Foundation for Homeopathy (IFH), they teach in
the IFH Professional Course. They are authors of The Patient's Guide
to Homeopathic Medicine, Ritalin-Free Kids, and Homeopathic Self-Care:
The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family and are currently working
on a book on homeopathic treatment of depression, anxiety, and other
mental and emotional problems.. They practice at The Northwest Center
for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, Washington and can be reached at
425-774-5599. Their website is http://www.healthy.net/jrru.