A newborn child and a cancer diagnosis are both life-changing, earth-shattering events, in utterly different ways.
Back in 2011, I faced both at the same time.
I had just entered my third trimester and went for what I thought was going to be a routine appointment with my gynaecologist. I was told that thick, green meconium present in the amniotic fluid meant I needed to have a caesarean immediately – there wasn’t even enough time for me to drive the two minutes home and take a shower.
My boy was born small and premature and stayed in a special nursery unit in the hospital for two weeks after being born.
When breastfeeding my newborn, I found a lump. With all the changes that take place in the body during lactation, the doctors assured me that this was quite normal. I carried on trying to breastfeed but was suffering from a lot of pain, and eventually, blood started coming out instead of milk.
‘I felt like I had lost everything’
Scared and in pain, I went back to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer.
In Vietnam at the time, most people diagnosed with late-stage cancer weren’t given treatment, just medication to treat the pain.
It felt like I had lost everything. My sons were so young, my eldest was nine and my youngest had only just been born. How could I leave them so soon? What would happen to
my family, my job, my dreams and my business? These terrifying thoughts plagued me for a
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery are all excellent treatment options, but can often leave patients with a distressing array of negative side effects including fatigue, nausea, and pain.
For me, however, it wasn’t the right choice.
After consulting with my doctor, I tackled my condition through a combination of very high-dose antibiotics, along with stopping eating red meat, increasing my vegetables, eating more fruits, drinking more water, and practising meditation every day. My sleep got better, and my energy levels increased.”
We often think of our mind and body as separate, but our mental health and physical health are interconnected. Physical health problems significantly increase our risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa.
Given the all-clear
Despite being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, I was able to watch my youngest son blow out his first birthday candles. Something, a year ago, I was not sure I was going to be able to see.
At the end of 2014, I was given the all-clear and we moved to Australia and started a business.
Another cancer diagnosis
Not long after moving, however, I found lumps in my thyroid and eventually discovered I was at the first stage of thyroid and uterus cancer. It was incredibly exhausting after years of working so hard and already dealing with the disease.
I decided to go the holistic approach in my recovery and I found a naturopath and learned more about nutritional medicine in Australia. I began a degree in Nutritional Medicine and Western Herbal Medicine, as well as Oncology Nutrition with the Oncology Nutrition Institute in the US.
It was through my own personal experience that I realised that nutrition, nutritional support and lifestyle adjustments can make an enormous difference when battling cancer. This is why I founded the Hearty Center. It is a haven for holistic care in cancer care and recovery, for cancer patients to share inspiration, experiences, and practice joyfulness daily.
I’m lucky enough to be currently cancer-free, but I am careful to continue to check my health every six months or so, in order to ensure there isn’t anything wrong with my organs or my thyroid. As things stand today, everything is in a normal range.”
Sadly, most of us will be directly or indirectly affected by cancer at some point in our lives. A diagnosis causes a ripple effect, affecting not only the diagnosed, but partners, family, and friends. Many cancer sufferers and their loved ones feel disempowered, confused and afraid of what lies ahead.
My outlook aims to address more than the physical manifestation of cancer by helping to deal with the stress and emotional devastation it leaves in its wake.
Using all the weapons in our arsenal – including meditation, mindfulness, nutrition, and natural therapies – helps not only heal the body, but the mind and spirit.
Thu Le is the director and founder of Hearty Center, a holistic cancer retreat in the Blue Mountains, NSW. After being diagnosed with breast, uterus and thyroid cancer more than a decade ago, Thu set out to research various dietary and spiritual treatments to help cancer sufferers feel nourished and energised.
Thu has over 26 degrees, diplomas and certificates obtained in Australia, Netherlands, UK, USA and Vietnam, including a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Medicine and a Bachelor of Western Herbal Medicine.