"I knew inside myself that there had to be a better way."
In November 1985, at the age of thirty-two, my life in Huntsville, Texas came to a sudden halt. I was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma cancer on my lower right back. I went through the usual medical treatment of surgical removal followed by regular checkups. I was told not to worry.
It's easy for someone else to say don't worry.
Well, I began planning the end of my life, knowing Stage IV cancer is almost always fatal. I became a person living in fear.
Before I could finalize my plans, my marriage came to an end. I would lose the much needed support of my wife of ten years and my two-year old daughter. I was forced to leave my family and business. I soon became involved in a Dallas business. So I moved to Dallas. I thought a new business would get the cancer and family problems off my mind. Perhaps even a miracle would take place driving the cancer out of my body.
Six months later my doctor found lumps in my groin area. He told me surgery was needed to find out what the lumps were. I went ahead with the surgery. The next day after the surgery, I found out that the cancer had spread into my lymph system. The doctor removed all the major lymph nodes in the area. He told me I needed eighty treatments of chemotherapy.
I would have to stay in the hospital five days for each five treatments every two months. Each treatment lasted all day. I was also told I might need more surgery from time to time, followed by radiation treatments.
Basically, I was not given much hope, only a 20 percent chance of survival with the treatments, and no hope without them. I would also go through a lot of expense for these services. I began to think that I was surely a goner. I knew inside myself that there had to be a better way.
Then, all of a sudden, two days after surgery, my life changed again. It all started when an old college friend came to the hospital to visit me. He brought me a magazine article on the story of a man who recovered from cancer through the use of macrobiotics.
The man's name was Dirk Benedict, a well known actor who appeared in The A-Team & Battlestar Galactica. Something instantly changed inside of me. I would never be the same person again. I knew I had found a new hope for life, something I was drastically in need of.
I had never heard of macrobiotics. Growing up in Texas and living in a small town, you don't hear of such things. When you get sick you go to the doctor. You put your life in his hands. You don't understand you have to guide yourself back to health and happiness. I knew that macrobiotics would be my tool for recovery.
The next day I asked a member of my medical staff if he had heard of macrobiotics. He paused for a moment and went to close the door to my room. He then said, "Yes I have. But please promise me you will not mention our conversation to anyone." I said O.K.
He began to tell me that he thought macrobiotics would work for some people. He said a person would have to be of the right character. Because of my willingness to think independently and my determination to live, he thought macrobiotics could work for me. He then recommended some books for me to read.
I had a friend go out immediately and purchase the books. The books were Recalled By Life by Anthony Sattilaro, M.D., and Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy by Dirk Benedict.
After three weeks in the hospital, I went to my mother's until I could go back to Dallas. After reading the books and returning to Dallas, I had my work cut out for me. I could barely get around, much less do all the things I would have to begin doing to get well.
Because of my serious condition, I had to jump right in to the macrobiotic diet. I would get up in the morning by 4:30, so I could fix my breakfast and do my stretching exercises, then go to work for about ten hours a day.
I would force myself to walk after work for at least two miles. I would then go home and cook and chew my food at least 100 times a mouthful. I wanted to do everything right.
I would go to bed usually around 11:00 P.M. which would give me three hours after eating before bedtime. On top of all this, I would have to spend four hours a day for special treatments I needed to help me get over the surgery. This took about five months.
After a few weeks on the macrobiotic diet, I started feeling the positive effects. My energy started going up and up. I soon started running and bicycling. Three months after surgery I managed to run over ten miles on some days. I wanted to beat the cancer and would do whatever it took to do so.
Although I did take ten chemotherapy treatments, which was one of the worst experiences I have ever gone through, I soon totally walked away from all doctors and modern medicine. I decided I would take care of myself. I would take responsibility for my own life.
For the first four months I learned everything about macrobiotics from books I read. I developed the attitude that if macrobiotics did not work for me it would not work for anyone. I became very strong from my cooking and my new way of life. I would cut no corners.
After about five months of my new life I decided to go to Becket, Massachusetts, to attend a Macrobiotic Residential Seminar sponsored by the Kushi Institute. This was one of the greatest weeks of my life. It was like one big family there. I learned more in one week than I had in the past five months. I also met with a macrobiotic teacher and this helped me make more adjustments in my road to recovery.
Following my visit, I decided to leave Dallas and move to Becket to work and live. A year later, there were no signs of cancer. Four years after being diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma, and receiving a negative prognosis for recovery, I felt stronger and better than I ever had in my life.
Thirty years later, I am stronger than ever and have taken advantage of this second lease on life by dedicating the last 25 years to helping others achieve their health goals through nutritional education and the development of the highest quality nutritional products.
James' story derived from the book 'Cancer-Free: 30 Who Triumphed over Cancer Naturally,' Japan Pubns (1992).