Healing Cancer Peacefully with Nancy Offenhauser
Susun Weed interviews Nancy Offenhauser in 2010 –
we offer this interview in memoriam.
Nancy, a cancer survivor, died of cardiac arrest April 2011
Listen to the interview here:
Dr. Nancy Offenhauser is a chiropractor in Amenia, NY. A graduate of Smith College, she was also the first female member of Local #1, the stagehands’ union in New York. She graduated from National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois, in 1993, and opened her practice in 1995.
After being diagnosed with endometrioid adenocarcinoma in December 2002, she decided to forgo the hysterectomy that was offered and figure it out on her own, with the able assistance of her acupuncturist, Jenny Fairservis. She is still practicing chiropractic and has written a book, Healing Cancer Peacefully: A Memoir, describing her journey, the principles behind her healing, and the specific herbs and other remedies she used and their effects. She used no allopathic medicine except for diagnosis and spent almost nothing on her therapy. Healing Cancer Peacefully is available on healingcancerbook.com.
Susun: When and how were you diagnosed with cancer?
Nancy: Dec. 2002. I had been bleeding since September 2000, not much at first. It was just before my 54th birthday, so I could have been anywhere at all on the menopause continuum. When the bleeding started, I was in the process of buying the house and didn’t have the time to worry about it. I had started eating seaweed in the spring of 2000 and thought it was possible that the resulting increase of thyroid activity might have induced the bleeding, so I wasn’t all that concerned at first. My periods had not yet stopped at that time.
I had had a Pap smear in January 2002 and another in late March 2002, both of which showed “atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance.” “Glandular” means that they were of uterine rather than cervical origin. After the first Pap, Jenny
suggested that I start castor oil packs. At first I did them over the uterus, but then my guidance told me to do them over the liver. These quickly cleared the yeast infection I had, a fungus nail I had had since 1995, and the joint pains I had in my hands. I did castor oil packs every day for two years. They were central to my healing.
Susun: How did you decide on a way to treat it?
Nancy: My mentor, Doc Feldman, had prostate cancer, and I watched the medical profession make a total mess of it, with radiation, surgery, and drugs to which he had allergic reactions. The idea of attacking a body that was already weakened and under stress made no sense to me. “Killing cancer” makes no sense to me, as cancer cells are parts of oneself that are not receiving proper oxygenation and/or nourishment. So why not feed them? Why would one attack oneself and make the situation worse? The usual rules of healing seem to be thrown out the window by conventional medicine when dealing with cancer—the ones about feeding, supporting, comforting, allowing for rest.
When I was diagnosed, I knew of no model for healing endometrial cancer, since the medical profession doesn’t bother to attempt this. The closest analogy to my situation I found was in Susun’s book, Menopausal Years. So I began by conceptualizing it as menopause, which worked very well. I referred to Menopausal Years frequently, where I first read about nettle and chaste tree berries, which I used to good effect. I had always wanted to know more about herbs than I did and borrowed the concept of learning the ones in my back yard, one at a time.
Susun: What did you feel were the major causes of your cancer?
Nancy: I had been under severe stress since late 1998, having gained forty pounds in three years; I was working more, exercising less, and the roof in the old office leaked, causing a mold probem. I had also been eating too many potatoes and non-organic beef, and I started having digestive trouble, which I’d never had before. My mentor, Doc Feldman, who was a medical intuitive as well as a chiropractor and naturopath, had told me in late 1998 that “my liver was vibing red.” Max Gerson, MD, originator of the Gerson Therapy, had said that cancer originates in the liver and the digestion. I knew this made sense in my case, so a hysterectomy was beside the point. I knew I needed to go back to the root causes: liver, digestion, and exhaustion.
Susun: What is the message of cancer?
Nancy: Cancer is a distress call from the body, saying that something is intolerable and has to be changed NOW! My job was to decide what the body was saying was intolerable and to figure out how to change it.
Susun: How did you decide to approach the cancer?
Nancy: Endometrial cancer is often diagnosed via ultrasound, when there is an increase in the thickness in the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, which is supposed to be 5mm. thick. If it’s more than that, endometrial cancer is suspected. Nature has a very good way of thinning out the endometrium without resorting to hysterectomy—it’s called bleeding. So far as I was concerned, the bleeding was a healing response.
Susun: What were your major symptoms?
Nancy: Bleeding, some cramping, fatigue, heat, tension and anxiety, sleep disturbance.
Susun: Which herbs did you use, and what were their effects?
Nancy: I used Four + One, the Jean’s Greens version of Essiac, an Ojibway formula
extensively studied by Rene Caisse, a Canadian nurse. It includes sheep sorrel, burdock root, slippery elm bark, and turkey rhubarb root. These are boiled together for ten to twelve minutes, left to steep overnight, brought to a boil in the morning. The Jean’s Greens version also has red clover, which is added in the morning, and then the mixture is put in sealed Mason jars. I found that my ability to handle sugar improved with these herbs. Red clover is a traditional “blood purifier,” and I have used it since then for patients with hot flashes, for which it is very effective. Slippery elm is soothing to the gut.
I used chaste tree berries for a month, by putting them in my breakfast scrambled egg. They induced flooding, once a day for an hour or two in the afternoon. After a month of that, I wasn’t interested any more. That job was done. I knew that I had to slow the bleeding down to get some energy back. One of my patients uses them for fibroids; she grinds them up like pepper and says that works very well.
It took me quite a while to discover that I couldn’t handle caffeine any more. I discovered that even a cup of coffee at lunch was keeping me awake at night. I started using a dandelion-based coffee substitute, Dandy Blend, because dandelion is good for liver and kidneys. The sleep disturbance persisted, however.
Later on, I started using ashwagandha to support my adrenals, which I knew were thoroughly fried, and to help with sleep. I do this with yogurt and maple syrup, or yogurt and honey, at bedtime. I also find that minerals at bedtime are sedative and that tension and anxiety can come from low blood sugar or mineral shortage.
After five years on the Four + One, I discontinued that and started making nettle tea instead. I drink up to a quart of that a day (sometimes less). I found an improvement in energy and clarity with that. One of my patients comments that it makes her “razor-sharp.”
Susun: What was the role of acupuncture?
Nancy: Acupuncture was particularly helpful in dealing with the “menopausal” symptoms, such as heat, sleep disturbance, and anxiety. Chinese herbs were helpful in building the blood, which was necessary after the amount of flooding I did. There were times when Jenny and I felt that we needed to induce a bleed to relieve stagnation, and acupuncture was very good for that. As time went on, acupuncture became less necessary.
Susun: How do you monitor the cancer?
Nancy: I decided to use no toxic or invasive tests, so I limited myself to ultrasound and the AMAS, or antimalignin antibody in serum blood test. This demonstrates an immune response to any type of cancer, and it will be elevated in active cancer and normal in successfully-treated or terminal disease. My test has been normal since April 2004. Since I’m still working and have written a book in the meantime, so I don’t think that this result indicates terminal disease.
Susun: How would you describe your health now?
Nancy: Not perfect, but pretty good. There is still some bleeding, though not much. About six weeks ago, it increased, for about three weeks. I was developing problems with an old root canal and an old amalgam filling and running a low-grade fever. I took an antibiotic and went to the dentist for these, and the bleeding slacked off again. I also found I had to get up less during the night than I had before. The dentist explained that the back molars are on the kidney meridian. When I was working in indexiing my book last August, I developed a uterine prolapse, which I am constantly having to adjust myself for.
Susun: What do you think of current plans for health care reform?
Nancy: Not much. “Health care” in this country is disease care, and as such is expensive and inefficient. As long as it is driven by the insurance, pharmaceutical and medical industries, it won’t get any better. Primary care should be practiced by herbalists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, nutritionists.
We offer this interview in memoriam.
Nancy, a cancer survivor, died of cardiac arrest April 2011.
Listen to the interview here:
Read Nancy’s article “Comments on Health Care” here:
I treated myself for cancer without allopathic medicine, using herbs, nutrition, and a number of other natural modalities. I spent almost nothing to do so. I had Healthy New York insurance for three years and dropped it as useless. Unless you include natural medicine as primary care in any health care plan, that plan is doomed to failure. Unless you curb the greed and excesses of insurance and drug companies, any national health care plan is doomed to failure. Unless you take the profit motive out of mainstream "cancer care", which is barbaric, expensive, and mostly doesn't work, there isn't going to be any progress on this front.
So far as I can see, "health care reform" as currently being proposed entirely misses the boat.
My major points are:
1. Health care will remain inefficient and expensive as
long as "health care" is equated with allopathic medicine.
2. Health care will remain inefficient and expensive as long as the insurance industry remains for-profit and is
allowed to "wag the dog."
3. Health care will remain inefficient and expensive as long as priorities are set by the pharmaceutical industry and as long as the pharmaceutical industry is allowed to advertise directly to the public.
4. Health care will remain inefficient and expensive as long as the majority of the population remains over-drugged and over-vaccinated.
5. There is no shortage of practitioners able to do primary care. Most of those available are chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, and herbalists whose scope of practice is artificially limited by arbitrary state laws
set by legislators who don't understand these disciplines and fall under the influence of the powerful AMA lobby.
6. Most drugs, rather than enhancing function, inhibit some natural process, dull the mind, overburden the liver and kidneys, interfere with digestion in some way, and interfere with the ability of the body to communicate. This contributes to the increasing obesity and stupidity of the population.
7. Scientific research is bought and paid for by drug companies, so I doubt there is any pure research out there. The FDA, rather than protecting the population, suppresses information about the effectiveness of herbs in order to allow drug companies to sell more drugs. This interferes with the ability of the people to make informed and intelligent decisions about the care of their own bodies.
8. (This should probably be #1). The degrading of the food supply, due to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and various non-food substances added to processed food, is also leading to starvation of the population in the face of plenty. As much of the food supply should be locally and organically grown as possible. Genetic engineering, especially that which makes seed sterile, should be banned, as it could lead to widespread famine down the road.
9. Drugs are now contaminating the water supply.
10. I suspect that as many people are dying of an overabundance of medical insurance as are dying from a lack of it. I have noticed in my practice that it is far easier to get people on drugs than off them. Usually the MDs will add a drug instead of subtracting one if something goes awry. They will tend to go for the drugs or surgery instead of the more natural herbs, acupuncture, or chiropractic, simply because their insurance will pay for it.
11. By mandating that everyone purchase insurance, you hand the fox the keys to the henhouse.
12. Requiring electronic medical records universally is an undue burden on practitioners, especially those with small practices. Before even attempting this, you have to make sure that the technology is standardized. Then you have to think about how you would assist them with implementation--NOT by creating a mass of indecipherable regulations like HIPAA. Frankly, there is a large portion of the medical record that shouldn't necessarily be passed on, as it is irrelevant to anything except the events of the day on which it is recorded. How will this be addressed? How will records be edited?
13. Yes, there is fraud and abuse that occurs in Medicare--but I, for one, get tired of having government wave big sticks and offer no carrots for practitioners who gamely put up with the nonsense from Medicare subcontractors who won't allow any correction to forms except copying them over. I get tired of paying for continuing education courses about placating insurers. The way practitioners are treated under Medicare is akin to having everyone on the airplane take off his/her shoes because there was a shoe bomber a few years ago, while doing nothing about the underwear bomber a few days ago. MOST PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO BE HONEST! Stop harassing them!
14. Medicare law is antiquated, so far as chiropractic is concerned. Chiropractors, despite outmoded New York state law, are capable of treating asthma, respiratory conditions including pneumonia,, some aspects of heart conditions, and many other things that we don't get paid for. Don't use Medicare as a model for health care reform unless you fix it first.
I have written a book, "Healing Cancer Peacefully," about how I treated myself for cancer. If you are interested, look on amazon.com and use the "Search Within the Book" feature. You will see some of my solutions there. Meanwhile, please don't make me pay for any more useless health insurance or drug plans, such as Medicare Part D, that I don't use or want.
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2 CD set - live talk by Susun Weed
Susun S Weed. 8th International Herb Symposium 2007.
Nourishing and tonifying herbs are often overlooked in favor of more dramatic, faster-acting stimulating and sedating herbs.
Can stinging nettle, oatstraw, comfrey leaf, linden flower, red clover blossoms, burdock, chickweed and dandelion really replace supplements? How come I call them nutrition powerhouses?
ORDER Nutritive and Tonic Herbs in our Bookshop
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In Herbs for Hepatitis C and the Liver, Stephen Buhner examines the most recent research on how hepatitis C affects the body. He offers important information, practical guidance, and hope.
Order Herbs for Hepatitis C and Liver Health in our Bookshop