My Cancer Story. Let Nobel Prize winner Marquez eat graviola!

What brings my email? Today, 16 May Manila time, I got a cancer notice and received cancer cure news. Should I believe the notice, or should I reject the news?

There is no cure for cancer, is there? There is only chemo, and that scares me to death. No, no chemo for me! 'The question was, which would the chemo kill first: the cancer or me?' –
Lance Armstrong. 'Cancer got me over unimportant fears, like getting old' – Olivia Newton-John. I'm 69.




Cancer is what I got for opening my Yahoo mail after a week or two; Frank A Hilario doesn't live here anymore; long ago, I migrated to Gmail, 02 July 2005 to be exact, invited by my son Jomar. I'm glad the cancer isn't mine. It's that of the Nobel Prize-winning writer I tried to read long ago, and gave up trying. He is dense.

As I write this, a few minutes ago, at 1726 hours 16 May 2009, Saturday in Manila, I received an email of ´A farewell letter from a genius´ –
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. By ANN (author not named), the story is that Marquez has a terminal form of cancer. The Intro says:


Gabriel Garcia Marquez, famous writer from Colombia (familiarly known as ´Gabo´ in his native country), and Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1982, has retired from public life for reasons of health. He has a form of cancer (that) is terminal. He has sent a farewell letter to his friends and it has been circulated (via) the Internet. It is recommended reading because it is moving to see how one of the best and most brilliant of writers expresses himself & with sorrow.

Comment 1.
It's amazing that the editorial emphasis is on seeing how the writer expresses himself and not what he expresses, the style rather than the substance!

Comment 2.
I cannot deny that he is a Nobel laureate in Literature, but I deny that Marquez is one of the best and most brilliant of writers. Here are the first 2 sentences of the 1st chapter of his 1st book, the bestselling One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1st published in English in 1970; from HarperCollins:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs.

With that, Gabriel Garcia Marquez lulls me to sleep! Even the title is
mind-numbing. Compare him with my favorite, Ernest Hemingway, a Nobel Prize winner himself. Here are the first 2 sentences of The Old Man And The Sea, published in 1952; from Barnes & Noble:

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days, a boy had been with him.

If I had insomnia, I would read Gabriel Garcia Marquez; if I wanted to stay awake all night, I would read Ernest Hemingway!

If Marquez has cancer, that is enough to keep him awake all day and all night. But does he?

In any case, before that email on Marquez' cancer, at 1606 hours 11 May 2006, Monday in Manila, an email reached my Yahoo inbox about the soursop (
Annona muricata); in Portuguese, it is called graviola, in the Philippines guyabano. Also by ANN, the story is that this fruit is a ´miraculous natural cancer cell killer´ that is ´10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy´ (by Adriamycin). The soursop is native to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (plants.usda.gov), but thank God, we have guyabano anywhere in the Philippines, pick your island; it's abundant in Mt Banahaw (philippineherbs.com).

Now, it just happens that last year I edited a book by
Samuel P Martin entitled The Healing Hands (August 2008, Los Baños, 100 pages, with color photographs). The cover was a metaphor for the healing hands of God as well as the healing hands of Mother Nature. Wouldn't you know! The book distills 10 healing lessons from the New Testament. The list of the natural healing techniques runs from Aromatherapy to Hip Bath to Oxygenated Water to Shiatsu to Vegetables to Yoga. Beer and red wine are included. What Martin´s Healing Hands book did not include is soursop in its list, but he had intended a second book that would list most tropical fruits and vegetables.

Now, is any of the above true, or are all rumors?

When he was very young, Gabriel Garcia Marquez lived in a house ´
filled with countless aunts and rumors of ghosts´ (Allen B Ruch, 2003, themodernword.com). As far as I already know, cancer is a house filled with countless cells and rumors of death. From the email I learn that Annona muricata is a house filled with sour-sweetness and rumors of health.

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Do we believe the rumors?

Let's examine the evidence at hand. Let me now quote the first few lines of Marquez's farewell letter:

A farewell letter from a genius

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.
I wouldn´t possibly say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful of all I say … I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean.
I would sleep less, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light. I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

Not bad. Here are some other selected lines I would like to quote from the letter:

How mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

Beautiful!

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say 'I love you.'

Corny. Old, sentimental fool! In the rest of the letter, he only talks about loving – loving those who love him. What good is there in that? Even the charlatans love those who love them.
Marquez is a Roman Catholic (nndb.com); here are the exact words from the New Testament, Matthew 5: 46 (New Revised Standard Version, NRSV, Catholic Edition): 'For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?' The real challenge in life, even to the point of your last breath, is to love those who hate you. To win a Nobel Prize is to obtain approbation from Man; to love your enemy is to gain approbation from God. You have a choice between the devil and the deep blue yonder.

But was the letter real?

First, the rumor of terminal cancer on Marquez that the ´farewell letter from a genius´ referred to. To verify, I googled for

cancer "Gabriel Garcia Marquez"

(the double quotes for me to get the man I wanted and not a horse of a different color), and in the first webpage I clicked, I got
Alex Boese ´s ´Gabriel Garcia Marquez´s Final Farewell´ (2002). Unlike ´A farewell letter from a genius,´ this one is entitled ´The Puppet´ and it´s a poem, not a letter. This is his final poem? Let me quote the first few lines (it's free verse):

The Puppet 

If for a moment God would forget that I am a rag doll and give me a scrap of life, possibly I would not say everything that I think, but I would definitely think everything I say.
I would value things not for how they are worth but rather for what they mean.
I would sleep little, dream more. I know that for each minute that we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of light.
I would walk when the others loiter; I would awaken when the others sleep.

If you compare the letter and the poem, they are very, very similar, aren't they? The poem reads better. But it cannot be both a letter and a poem, can it? Marquez would not repeat himself like that, because that is plagiarizing yourself, and for all his being boring, he is an original, not a copy.

Question: Now, which one is the rumor and which one is the truth? Answer: Neither. It´s a hoax; the poem '
La Marioneta' (The Puppet) was in fact the work of a Mexican ventriloquist (ANN, answers.com). It's obvious that the 'farewell letter' is based on The Puppet.

It´s true, says
Juan Forero, writing in the New York TimesGarcia Marquez, Fighting Cancer, Issues Memoir,´ nytimes.com). The part of the cancer, that is. In 1999, Marquez learned that he had lympathic cancer. He underwent chemotherapy in a Los Angeles hospital, cloistered himself for 3 years, and in October 2002 was reported about to come out with a 579-page book To Live To Tell It (first released in Colombia).

That book did come out, but with a slightly different title,
Living To Tell The Tale (Spanish title, Vivir Para Contarla, amazon.com). This is the first of a trilogy of his memoirs. 'It is rambling and hard to follow,' according to one reviewer (ANN, 18 October 2004, amazon.com). Those Nobel Prize winners in Literature usually are difficult to read. Why can't those geniuses write in the language of the people and elevate it with their art?

Truth to tell, I never again attempted to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez, even if I did read he was a Nobel Prize winner. But the email on his cancer and his 'farewell letter' together with the email on Graviola as cancer cure were too much to resist. He wrote of his native Colombia; did he believe in the wisdom of his people?

Marquez did undergo chemo. So I'm not surprised he 'disappeared' for 3 years; that's what chemotherapy does to you – it makes you hate to look at yourself in the mirror.


Falling hair is what happens outside; what happens inside is more frightening. About that, National Cancer Institute says (quoted by MedlinePlus (nlm.nih.gov):


Normally, your cells grow and die in a controlled way. Cancer cells keep forming without control. Chemotherapy is drug therapy that can stop these cells from multiplying. However,
it can also harm healthy cells, which causes side effects.

I have yet to hear of chemo without side effects. If you knew, they might shock you, as they stunned me; here is the longest list I found, from the
Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center (chemocare.com):

Side Effects of Chemotherapy 

A
1. Abdominal Pain
2. Acid Indigestion
3. Acid Reflux
4. Allergic Reactions
5. Alopecia
6. Anaphylasix
7. Anemia
8. Anxiety
9. Appetite (Lack Of)
10. Arthralgias
11. Asthenia
12. Ataxia
13. Azotemia
B
14. Balance & Mobility Changes
15. Bilirubin Blood Level
16. Bone Pain
17. Bladder Problems
18. Bleeding Problems
19. Blood Clots
20. Blood Pressure Changes
21. Blood Test Abnormalities
22. Breathing Problems
23. Bronchitis
24. Bruising
C
25. Cardiotoxicity
26. Cardiovascular Events
27. Cataracts
28. Central Neurotoxicity
29. Chemo Brain
30. Chest Pain
31. Chills
32. Cognitive Problems
33. Cold Symptoms
34. Confusion
35. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
36. Constipation
37. Cough
38. Cramping
39. Cystitis
D
40. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
41. Dehydration
42. Depression
43. Diarrhea
44. Dizziness
45. Drug Reactions
46. Dry Eye Syndrome
47. Dry Mouth
48. Dry Skin
49. Dyspepsia
50. Dyspnea
E
51. Early Satiety
52. Edema
53. Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) Changes
54. Electrolyte Imbalance
55. Esophagitis
56. Eye Problems
F
57. Fatigue
58. Feeling Faint
59. Fertility
60. Fever
61. Flatulence
62. Flu-like Syndrome
63. Flushing
G
64. Gas
65. Gastric Reflux
66. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
67. Genital Pain
68. Granulocytopenia
69. Gynecomastia
70. Glaucoma
H
71. Hair Loss
72. Hand-Foot Syndrome
73. Headache
74. Hearing Loss
75. Hearing Problems
76. Heart Failure
77. Heart Palpitations
78. Heart Problems
79. Heart Rhythm Changes
80. Heartburn
81. Hematoma
82. Hemorrhagic Cystitis
83. Hepatotoxicity
84. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
85. High Liver Enzymes
86. Hyperamylasemia (High Amylase)
87. Hypercalcemia (High Calcium)
88. Hyperchloremia (High Chloride)
89. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)
90. Hyperkalemia (High Potassium)
91. Hyperlipasemia (High Lipase)
92. Hypermagnesemia (High Magnesium)
93. Hypernatremia (High Sodium)
94. Hyperphosphatemia (High Phosphous)
95. Hyperpigmentation
96. Hypersensitivity Skin Reactions
97. Hypertriglyceridemia (High Triglycerides)
98. Hyperuricemia (High Uric Acid)
99. Hypoalbuminemia (Low Albumin)
100. Hypocalcemia (Low Calcium)
101. Hypochloremia (Low Chloride)
102. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
103. Hypokalemia (Low Potassium)
104. Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium)
105. Hyponatremia (Low Sodium)
106. Hypophosphatemia (Low Phosphous)
I
107. Impotence
108. Incoordination
109. Infection
110. Injection Site Reactions
111. Injury
112. Insomnia
113. Iron Deficiency Anemia
114. Itching
J
115. Joint Pain
K
116. Kidney Problems
L
117. Leukopenia
118. Libido (Loss Of)
119. Liver Dysfunction
120. Liver Problems
121. Loss of Libido
122. Low Blood Counts
123. Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
124. Low Platelet Count
125. Low Red Blood Cell Count
126. Low White Blood Cell Count
127. Lung Problems
M
128. Memory Loss
129. Menopause
130. Metallic Taste
131. Mouth Sores
132. Mucositis
133. Muscle Pain
134. Myalgias
135. Myelosuppression
136. Myocarditis
N
137. Nail Changes
138. Nausea
139. Nephrotoxicity
140. Nervousness
141. Neutropenia
142. Neutropenic Fever
143. Nosebleeds
144. Numbness
O
145. Ototoxicity
P
146. Pain
147. Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia (PPE)
148. Pancytopenia
149. Pericarditis
150. Peripheral Neuropathy
151. Pharyngitis
152. Photophobia
153. Photosensitivity
154. Pneumonia
155. Pneumonitis
156. Post-nasal Drip
157. Proteinuria
158. Pulmonary Embolus (PE)
159. Pulmonary Fibrosis
160. Pulmonary Toxicity
R
161. Radiation Recall
162. Rash
163. Rapid Heart Beat
164. Rectal Bleeding
165. Restlessness
166. Rhinitis
167. Ringing Ears
168. Runny Nose
S
169. Sadness
170. Seizures
171. Sexuality
172. Shortness of Breath
173. Sinusitis
174. Skin Reactions
175. Sleep Problems
176. Sore Mouth
177. Stomach Sour
178. Stomach Upset
179. Stomatitis
180. Swelling
T
181. Taste Changes
182. Thrombocytopenia
183. Thyroid Hormone Levels
184. Tingling
185. Tinnitus
186. Trouble Sleeping
U
187. Urinary Tract Infection
V
188. Vaginal Bleeding
189. Vaginal Dryness
190. Vaginal Infection
191. Vertigo
192. Vomiting
W
193. Water Retention
194. Watery Eyes
195. Weakness
196. Weight Changes
197. Weight Gain
198. Weight Loss
X
199. Xerostomia

With such an extended list of side effects,
Sadness included, I would say that the cure is worse than the disease!

That's
not my list, folks; it's from the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, so you better believe it. Just looking at all the 199 makes me cry. Of course, not all these apply in any single case, but just the same, if you ask me, 1 side effect is already 1 too many for me.

I believe in divine healing, that's why I consented to edit The Healing Hands book of Martin, as I mentioned earlier. In case of failure to invoke God's mercy, I believe in resorting to natural healing, short of a miracle. So, if I had cancer, I would try taking as my medicine Annona muricata. The email claim is that this fruit is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy. But that I must say is
not correct. You cannot compare cure with treatment.

Chemo
therapy means chemical treatment, which is different from cure. (1) If you have athlete's foot, you apply an antifungal spray, and that kills the fungus that causes the disease. Your foot smells nice again. That's cure. (2) If you have diabetes and your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the doctor injects you with insulin to help you live a 'high-quality life' as much as possible. That's treatment. The injection doesn't remove the cause of why your pancreas is not producing enough insulin for you.

Strictly speaking, chemotherapy does not cure cancer; it destroys the cancer cells (cancerhelp.org.uk); that's what it's supposed to do. The best the cancer specialist can offer you? A promise that after chemo, you may be able to lead 'a high-quality life,' you know what I mean. Not normal.

And the best the graviola can offer you? Soursop will not only destroy your cancer cells but more importantly, guyabano will help your body destroy the cause of your cancer – because it will help your body build up its immune system. Your body will work its own miracle.

Not only that, guyabano makes a nutritious snack, graviola a delicious drink. So, give me Annona muricata anytime!

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