Joy to share

To the Editor:

I am writing today with a joy that I would like to share. My first check-up after finishing chemotherapy came back clear.

My recovery is a great testament to the macrobiotic diet, as it has kept me as well as can be during the complete cancer treatment. Given the help of acupuncture and tutoring from intuitive and supportive Nancy Gilfoy, the embrace of many loving friends, steady exercise every morning, and the feeling of being admitted into a sacred space.

Since the diagnosis a year ago, I have been on a strict diet of whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and seaweed. All produce should be as fresh as possible, as local as possible, and as organic as possible.

The benefits to me were immediate. Pre-operative CT scans showed that the tumor had shrunk. I was shedding fat by the pound.

My son Erik brought me macrobiotic food from a cook in Boston as soon as I could take in soft foods.

When I was sent home to recover, my dear friends Nina and Nevenka took time out of their busy schedules and read up on macrobiotic cooking. They helped feed my husband and me while I was too weak to cook. My neighbor Cindy remembered her macrobiotic knowledge from her past cooking ventures, and came over with a couple of meals on her golf cart. Close and distant friends were encouraging and embracing with great help and impulses every day as I was slowly regaining my body functions.

Vineyard Nursing Association’s Laura Murphy kept track of the cut healing as it should, always bringing a great smile and a calming effect.

Before long, my husband Gary was able to pull me along on the bike to our daily sun-ups at Tashmoo beach with the dogs. Steady exercise and healthy eating slowly restored my body with the best materials as each day passed.

I can’t emphasize enough how good friends and caring family contribute to physical healing. Friends’ prayers and heartwarming actions have carried me through, and I am eternally grateful for all the love and laughter I have been so lucky to receive in so many ways.

My message to you is this: given enough time, attention and love, and sticking to the diet and acupuncture, there is hope. I cannot know which of the remedies did the job. We might need all of the good tools that are offered from both Western and Eastern medicine when galloping cancer cells try to inhabit the body. However, I do know which tools I have control over in my daily life, and I do know what I can do to continue staying as healthy as possible. Please lift your head in hope for yourself. Let my story encourage you to continue to make the good effort it takes to stay healthy.

I would love to connect with families, businesses, and individuals that know macrobiotics, or would like to learn more about it. I wish for a macrobiotic restaurant to open on Martha’s Vineyard. It would complement an already extensive healing community that we have available here already.

Please contact me if you would like to share ideas and thoughts, or if you are looking for information on macrobiotics.

Love, peace and longevity.

Ellen Bang-Birge

Vineyard Haven