All these stars, these countless stars we see in the sky at night, are the souls of little children waiting to be born. When a mom and a dad love each other and get married, a star comes down and an angel brings one of these little souls into the belly of the mom. Then, it grows into a baby and, after 9 months developing inside the mother, comes out and becomes a sweet little child like you.
This is what my mother explained to me when I asked her where children came from. I don’t know if this is a popular story, one that many parents tell their children when they ask them where they came from, but it is a sweet little story that happens to be far easier for a young child to understand than how things really happen. It also transmits a sense that each child, the life of each child, is magical and mysterious in origin, and therefore incredibly special. This is true: Life is magical, its workings are mysterious, and it is on the whole truly amazing.
A few nights ago, on new year’s eve, out son went to sleep over at a friend’s house, to watch a film (2001 Space Odyssey) and ring in the new year. My wife and I stayed home and watched a movie together. We watched The Fault in Our Stars, Josh Boone’s film of John Green’s book that our son first read and then watched, and highly recommended.
It is a touching story about two young people, Hazel-Grace and Augustus, that fall in love, with one another, deeply and sincerely in love. But their friendship lasted a very short while only because of Augustus’s quick, and in some ways, unexpected passing away. Hazel and Gus met at a meeting of a cancer support group where he went to accompany his best buddy who had recently learned they were going to take out his second eye due to the spread of his childhood retinoblastoma, and where she went to please her mother who insisted she go to meet people with whom she would have at least one thing in common: her life-altering and debilitating childhood cancer.
Hazel developed lung cancer when she was around 13, and lost one of the two lungs some time after that, and was, since then, living with a small oxygen tank she had with her at all times throughout the day and night, a little tube bringing oxygen into her nostrils, providing her with the oxygen she needed to survive. Augustus right leg had been amputated due to an aggressive cancer a few years back, but looked to be in very good spirits, an inspired and inspiring young man. I won’t say anymore about the film because you really should watch it for yourself. It is very good.
The picture that is painted of the world seen through the eyes of these young people is indeed very different from what most of us who do not suffer from serious illnesses are accustomed to. They know very well and unambiguously not only that their days are counted, but also that the end can come at any time, even without a moment’s notice, today or tomorrow, next week, next month or next year, but surely and without a doubt about it. They know and have in the forefront of their consciousness the unavoidable fact they they are dying, that they are at the mercy of death.
The truth is that this is also true for everyone everywhere. It’s just that the perception of it and the timescale are different, or at least it tends to be: before being afflicted or diagnosed with a typically deadly disease like cancer, we tend to act and think that we will live forever, or at least for so long that it’s really not relevant to consider how long because we’ll be old and frail and our children will have families of their own, and our grandchildren will themselves already be grown ups, and on and on; after becoming seriously ill or receiving a crippling diagnosis, we immediately see the end, we see our end, as something actually really close to us, and, unfortunately unavoidable.
Even if the film is very sad, it is also very inspiring, giving us, all of us who are still alive, so much to be thankful and grateful for. This is what I felt. And this is what I said to my wife as we were lying in bed before falling asleep, after the distant fireworks and local firecrackers had finally subsided: we are just so lucky, so incredibly lucky.
For children like Hazel-Grace and Augustus, children who develop cancerous tumours in the womb already, in the first few years of life, or a little later, is something totally incomprehensible: how can such a thing happen at such a young age, or before even being born! What have they done to deserve this? This is not intelligible, not acceptable, simply not possible. Naturally, it can only be a ‘fault in our stars’, a fault in their stars. It cannot be anything else. It must be some kind of problem at the source, at the mystical, magical source of the life of these poor, unfortunate, afflicted children.
This may be a way to help us accept the situation and just make the best of it for as long as possible, with strength, compassion and courage, but it is a lie. A romantic and poetic lie, but a lie nonetheless. The truth is that cancer is never, has never been, and never will be a ‘fault in our stars’, a stroke of bad luck, an unfortunate turn of events. Whether it develops while we are still in our mother’s womb, when we are three, five, ten, thirteen, eighteen, thirty three, forty two or sixty nine, it is never due to chance.
For cancer to develop two conditions must be fulfilled: there needs to occur an initial structural damage at the cellular level, and there needs to be a biochemical/immune environment that permits the subsequent development and evolution of the cancer cells. Without these, cancer cannot develop. Under optimal biochemical and immunological conditions and function, cancer cells that do appear for whatever reason are immediately destroyed, cleaned out and replaced by healthy cells.
For unborn children, there is little doubt to be had that cancer can primarily be due to the mother’s having been exposed either prior to or during pregnancy to carcinogenic agents: respiratory poisons, hormone disruptors or mutagenic substances. The embryo is so fragile and so vulnerable, especially to respiratory poisons because of its propensity towards glucose fermentation, that minute amounts otherwise unnoticeable by the mother can be enough to cause the formation and growth of what will turn out to be large tumours by the time the baby is born, often the case for retinoblastoma as in the case of Augustus’ closest friend, and, as it happens, in the case of the daughter of a close friend of mine, the baby is usually born with at least one of the eyes’ optic nerve covered in cancerous tumours, prompting the removal of the eye and nerve as soon as this is identified.
Throughout childhood, the less mature child is always more vulnerable and fragile than the more mature individual, and this is always thus in relation to the maturity of the cells, tissues and organs of the developing child. Some cells and tissues are more vulnerable, like the brain, for example. But all immature cells are significantly more vulnerable than their mature counterparts. And knowing that all immature cells tend to higher fermentation rates, shouldn’t it be considered the most reasonable approach to completely restrict sugars and carbohydrates at least until the child has reached the first stage in maturity at about 7 years of age, feeding them mostly fat in natural forms and chlorophyl-rich vegetables, keeping glucose and insulin as low as possible and thus ensuring that any damaged (pre-cancerous) cell relying on glucose fermentation will silently perish and be swept out before even the smallest cluster of such cancer-promoting cells has formed, let alone a full blown tumour, the smallest of which contain billions of cancer cells?
Shouldn’t it be considered only reasonable to just stop behaving so ridiculously irresponsibly towards ourselves, towards our children, towards our environment: the air, the soils, the lakes and rivers, the seas and oceans? To stop dumping so much chemical rubbish in our bodies, in those of our children and in the world all around us? It seems to obvious yet for some reason it isn’t to most people, and certainly not to politicians and policy makers worldwide who seem to be precisely those least apt to make those decisions and formulate those policies intended to minimise damage and disease by restricting the production and release of poisons in air, water, soil and food.
At least, at the very least, we have to stop feeding ourselves and our children foodstuffs that are devoid of nutrients and laden with sugar, chemicals and other man-made, denatured molecules like trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup. At the very least, we have to start simply drinking plain, pure and clean water: not juice, not milk, not soda or other sugary drinks, just water. We have to start eating fresh whole foods, those that don’t have labels, that are not wrapped in plastic, and that do not come in box. And we have to just stop using chemicals in our showers, kitchens, in our homes and in our gardens.
It’s so simple, but I so often feel stupid saying and writing things of this sort just because is it so simple and obvious. And yet, it’s amazing how rarely I encounter people who also see these principles as obvious. If you don’t yet, please think about it for a while, and ask yourself this: what are, if not these, the most basic steps to take to ensure our own health and that of our children, those growing up around us and in our care, those curled up in the warm and cosy space of their mother’s womb, and those yet unborn and not yet conceived either in thought or in actuality, those little stars shining silently in the night sky?
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