Perspectives: Treating cancer with ayahuasca
FOR SARA*, 27, AYAHUASCA HAS BECOME AN INTEGRAL PART OF TREATING HER CANCER WITHOUT CHEMO.
I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January 2018. I started doing research immediately. I learned quickly that with conventional ABVD chemotherapy, a regime used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there are four chemicals used which are very toxic. It’s pretty sure that in the long run you’ll have lung problems and need to take medication your whole life.
So I tried to get more information on alternative medicine, but I wasn’t able to find a conventional oncologist who was even open to talk about it. They all said, “You have to do chemo and radiation.”
A few months before, my cousin had told me she was doing an ayahuasca ceremony in Zurich. My intuition told me that I needed to go given what was happening in my life. All the places were taken, but my cousin told the organizers about my diagnosis and they made space for me.
“There were colorful lights and I felt I needed to follow them. It was a path into my body.”
I was pretty unprepared, aside from a two-week cleanse of sugar, processed foods, and so on. I arrived to a very intimate circle of eight people in the living room of a friend.
I put down my yoga mats and bucket. Christine, the shaman, calmly explained how it was going to work. Then we all started drinking up.
Sitting to my right was Mike, a father of two whose wife had lung cancer. The doctors told her she had just three months to live. She had a lot of chemo and radiation but was looking for alternative therapy. Although we didn’t know each other, except for through my cousin, that gave me the feeling that this setting made sense. Soon he started puking like crazy, but the atmosphere was still super calm with candlelight and traditional music.
I knew as a first-timer I might not feel anything. It can take a few “dates” before the plant and my body get to know each other. Everyone started puking one after the other, except for me. I wasn’t feeling anything, so I accepted it probably wouldn’t be this time for me. When more or less everyone else was already done and going to sleep, I started to relax and then it hit me.
There were colorful lights and I felt I needed to follow them.
It was a path into my body.
At the same time, I also stepped out of myself and I saw myself there being safe, but in the next second I could see that my body was going up in flames. And then from inside, that was the moment I was able to see where the cancer was sitting inside of me.
Afterwards, a radiologist showed me exactly where the cancer was sitting on a CAT scan. It was exactly what I’d seen before through ayahuasca.
I told one oncologist I would do chemotherapy, and whatever I needed to, but that I wanted to try alternative therapy first instead of doing chemo right away. He said he couldn’t be my doctor because he couldn’t see young patients killing themselves. He said the tumor wrapped around my heart would grow and eventually pressure my lungs into exploding, and that I would regret the decision. I sat there with tears running all over my face.
Meanwhile, Christine had told me about a 10-day ayahuasca retreat in Peru in March 2018 and instantly I felt I wanted to go.
Working with ayahuasca and other plants in the ceremonies, a lot of past trauma came to my attention. One of the key visuals I had was stepping into a room which was my old room when I was a child, little baby half a year old, lying in my crib and it was summer so it was really bright. I was crying so hard, but nobody came.
I hadn’t taken care of myself, I always put everyone else first. Both my parents are deaf, and I grew up with a lot of responsibility translating for them. My brother struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, my father also had cancer. I learned pumping some medicine into my body wouldn’t heal me.
“I’m trying to tell my body, ‘This not a war.’”
In 2018, I did about 15 ayahuasca ceremonies. I also completely changed my diet. A test revealed that my cancer gets its energy from carbs, so I am on a vegan keto diet. I take supplements to enhance my immune system to heal itself. I use a couple drops of medical marijuana paste daily. I also meditate and do yoga. I’m trying to heal myself holistically looking at all the components. I’m trying to tell my body, ‘This not a war.’
In the summer of last year, I also got to know a health practitioner outside Hamburg who’s treating cancer patients for over 30 years with natural plant-based infusions comparable to chemo. I have had 31 infusions since then.
Is the way I’m healing myself with alternative medicine still right for me? I always get the answer in my ayahuasca ceremonies, ‘You are on the right path.’ So this is where I find the inner trust.
In October 2018, I had a PET scan and a trained radiologist, who I am also doing energy therapy with, compared it with my scan from January 2018. She’s a doctor, so she tries to not be too close to her patients, but I could see there were tears in her eyes. The cancer, especially around my heart, has noticeably decreased. In January, the lymph nodes around my heart measured 9.5 x 5.5 cm, now they are 5.5 x 3.5 cm.
My next PET scan is coming up. If I have to do chemo in the end I’m willing to do it, I’m not stubborn or trying to prove something. I don’t give a shit, I don’t want to die from this, but I will try to exclude it for as long as I can if I feel good.
You can say you’re sick or this is the healing system of your body. I prefer saying this is the healing system of my body because that for me is the stronger message. I’m happy with the path I’ve chosen, and I do wish that more doctors would be more open to combining conventional and alternative healing in their practices.
*Name changed at the author’s request.