Author: Mona Sanders

In August, 1986, I had just turned 37 and was thoroughly enjoying my life. And then the bottom fell out. After a grand mal seizure that sent me sprawling onto an asphalt tennis court, many hospital tests, and two surgeries, I was diagnosed as having a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma. This is a fast-growing inoperative brain tumor. At that time, it was about the size of a small grapefruit. 

The discovery was shattering. One night soon after I experienced a series of physical jolts: nausea, vomiting, and numbness in my right leg.

I had always enjoyed life, living by my own decisions – until now. The doctor’s prognosis ran through my mind: “It was bad”, “It would never go away”, “Chemo might be able to slow its growth”, “It was close to a motor area and I would eventually lose control”, “Wheelchair in the future”, “6 to 18 months to live”.

When my aunt from New Orleans suggested macrobiotics, I had no idea what she was talking about. But when you have no alternative and a strong desire to live, you do what it takes.

I read several books she recommended, including “Recovery” by Elaine Nussbaum. Elaine was a housewife like me, but in much worse shape. I reasoned that if she could do it I could too. It did not matter that I lived in a small town in Northeast Mississippi and knew no one who had even heard of macrobiotics at that time.

Before jumping in, I decided to check with the American Cancer Society hotline to see if there was anything else I could do. At this point I had 6000 RADs and two treatments of chemo (PCNU). At least five more treatments were scheduled. The volunteer’s answer was, “Nothing. Good luck.” The line went dead. Through clenched teeth my reply was, “We’ll see about that!”

Three day later, January 17, 1987, I was on my way to a macrobiotic center in Brookline, Massachusetts. I had trouble understanding the various teachers, as some were from foreign countries, and the fast-talking Yankee instructors, and of course, they couldn’t understand my Southern accent. The ingredients for the meals could have come from another planet.

I was on many anti-seizure pills, and my thinking was clouded, to say the least. Luckily, I took my camcorder and videotaped the seminar, because trying to absorb everything sent me to bed with a headache each night.

Looking back, I’m able to realize how much I’ve absorbed and credit much of my success to that program. I learned not only the proper way to cook, but also exercises, massage, home remedies, and the power of positive thinking.

Back in Columbus, Mississippi, I quickly learned cooking for oneself was very different. I started my first solo macro meal at 3 pm. I finished a little after 8, at which time I was too exhausted to eat!

Another turning point  came when I returned to Boston in February to see Michio Kushi. It was then that I fully decided to take charge of my recovery.

I discontinued the chemotherapy and gradually decreased the anti-seizure medication. Dawn Gilmore, a Kushi Institute cook, came to cook for me for a week, and the food actually started tasting good!

Another angel who I’m sure was sent to me by God was Mamie. I had hired her for a few days earlier sight unseen, and she was there for Dawn’s teaching and absorbed it all. She also was like a mother to me. I truly do not know what I would have done without her guidance and persistence.

A verse from Ephesians became my motto: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

I also used imaging and constantly imagined that the tumor was decreasing. In my bedroom I kept a drawing of the tumor that showed it decreasing in size from the size of a grapefruit to a golf ball to a pinhead and nothing! Amazingly, each test showed the size of the malignancy had diminished just as I had drawn.

The CAT scan in April 1987, four months after starting macrobiotics, showed no evidence of cancer! And none have since then, either.

One night, two years ago, Parker, my nine-year-old son, asked, “Mom, do you think you’ll ever get cancer again?”

My immediate reply was, “No.” After a bit I came back into his bedroom and said, “But, Parker, don’t worry, honey, because if I do, I know what to do.”

He smiled and said, “We’ll fight like before.”

Today with God’s help and the love and support of my husband, children, family, and friends, I am alive with the chance to work, play, and love. I want to share my experiences with others to spare them the anguish I went through and to offer our practical alternative to degenerative disease.