“It was the first time that I really took control of my life, and I said no. Against people of importance in the medical field, I said no, this isn’t for me.”
In January 2011, Violet Cameron was diagnosed with Lymphoma – a blood cancer that attacks your lymphatic system. The chemo appeared to be working, and the following January Violet went into remission… for eight months. And then the cancer came back. She started back on chemo treatments, but it quickly became apparent that the chemo was killing her. They told her there was a 70% chance it wouldn’t work at all, an if it did she would become permanently deaf and develop severe osteoporosis – with the possibility of being wheelchair bound.
Four years later Violet is on her way to a 100% health, but it wasn’t thanks to chemo. In fact, she stopped the chemo treatments and went an alternate route. She raised the money to attend the Gerson Clinic in Mexico, and started a strict regime based around using food as medicine.
Violet writes about her journey toward health on her blog, Organic Gladiator
“When I started I was told that I could expect to be three years on the therapy. That’s three years of preparing and drinking 13 juices a day combined with over 40 supplements, and a strict vegan whole foods plant based diet.” Everything that Violet eats is living. “If you think about that, it’s very overwhelming,” she says.
1. How do you keep yourself motivated?
Documentaries are huge. When I was growing up, I was never taught what food did. Educating yourself is the biggest thing. Because if you know why a behaviour produces an outcome – and you want that outcome – you’ll do that behaviour.
By eating a vegan whole foods plant-based diet, I know exactly what’s going into my body. I know exactly what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Doing anything else is not really an option. This is my life. My life depends on it, so I can’t take a day off and I can’t relax.
You also have to take it one day at a time, and you have to stay positive. I have a goal board where I’ve put up specific pictures of the car that I want, the house that I want, people that I want to act with. Having a visual aid helps to remind me of why I’m doing what I’m doing when I need that extra motivation.
2. What did it feel like to stand up for yourself? Against the doctors, your family, etc.
When my partner and I researched alternatives, our doctor told us “alternative therapy doesn’t work” “it’s a money grab” “it’s not scientifically proven.” We thought ‘okay…’ When you hear that from a doctor, it sticks with you. My mother was in tears at the doctor’s office because they told us that if I went the alternative route, I would die. They told me I’d be committing suicide, but I knew in my gut this was the right decision.
I said, if this was going to work – if chemicals were going to work – I wouldn’t be back in this situation. And for me to get cancer again, I felt like I was missing something.
It was the first time that I really took control of my life, and I said no. Against people of importance in the medical field, I said no, this isn’t for me.
3. What have you learned from being sick?
So many people are waiting for tomorrow to be happy, or for until they reach a certain point. But you will always be chasing that point. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from being sick, is that happiness is everything.
When I was so sick I couldn’t function – nine months straight of being confined to my bed and my partner having to carry me from the washroom to the living room – I made myself a promise. I promised myself that I would not go through one more day being unhappy if I was physically capable of doing that. If I woke up in a kind of mood, I’d play music, take my dogs for a walk. I’d do anything to change that mood around as quickly as possible. It’s absolutely made my life 100% better.
4. Do you think there’s a problem with calling what happened to you a miracle? Do you think that’s a damaging word?
What I’m doing makes sense. When you feed your body what it needs, it will do it’s job. I’m cutting out everything that’s harmful to my body – anything that harms my immune system – and it’s working. My body is getting stronger. I don’t know it I would call it a miracle, but this therapy has definitely changed my life.
I remember asking about chemotherapy, and I didn’t know what the heck they were saying. I’d ask them about certain drugs. Well, this is what it does. But why? Why does it do that? It just does it, you need it.
5. Can you talk about your experience with support?
Support is everything. Absolutely everything. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people who have supported me – whether that was reading to me, feeding me, just sitting in the same room, or telling me a joke. It’s things that you wouldn’t expect.
My partner never left me alone for 2 years straight. He’d stay in the hospital night and day. He’d sleep upside down on the bed so his head were my feet were, and his feet were where my head were. He would drive 2 hours to feed the dogs everyday and take them for walks and then come back. He never left me alone. There were times where I’d have to sleep on the bathroom floor because I was throwing up constantly, and he would sleep on the bathroom floor with me. Never feeling alone was huge.
The first time I was diagnosed, I hid. The second time I was diagnosed, I said I wasn’t going to hide. I wasn’t going to hide in the house and I wasn’t going to stay quiet because I felt that it was so important for people to see what it was like to go through something like this.
6. You’re doing a mind over mountain adventure race on September 26th. What inspired you to do that?
The mind over mountain race – MOMAR – is on Vancouver Island, and they have it every year. It’s 30k of trail running, kayaking, and mountain biking.
And you’ve never kayaked or mountain biked before?
Nope, it’s kind of a small part of it. And I’m not a runner either. I don’t think I’ve ever run for over a half hour before. Even when I was in my prime. So this is a real big challenge for me.
Through my research into nutrition, I came across a lady called Ruth Heidrich. I saw her in the documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and decided not to do standard treatment. She went to see Dr John McDougall, and he educated her on the power of nutrition. Now she’s in her seventies, and she runs, she does marathons. This woman is unstoppable.
When I saw her on this documentary, he story really jumped out at me. I thought, if she can do it, why can’t I do it? She was a real inspiration to me, and since then we’ve become friends. She’s helping me with my journey, which is absolutely amazing… but I’m going to do it for me.
I just want to cross the finish line. No matter how long it takes that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to cross the finish line. I’ve always wanted to do a race, and I thought why wait? Why wait until they give me the certificate that says “you’re cancer free?” I feel good. I’m looking after myself, and this is something I really want to do… so I’m doing it. I’m determined. I’m going to go out today and go out for a bike ride. It’s just every day. It’s exciting. I’m learning something new.
Let’s Talk About Self-Love and Self-Compassion
7. What do you do when you’re experiencing doubt?
I think that doubt is a consequence of fear. You can’t let either run your life or control you. You need to surround yourself with positive messages and people that will reinforce why you’re doing something. That’s how I try to live, and it’s working so far.
And it’s not something that you just deal with once. It’s something that you have to work on daily.
8. In what environments do you feel least comfortable in your own skin, and how do you deal with that?
Situations that make me the most uncomfortable in my own skin, are situations that are very important, but that I don’t know a lot about. I felt like this at a lot doctor’s appointments. Especially the first time that I was diagnosed, because I was bombarded with all this information that I didn’t understand. I was just trying to digest that I was being diagnosed with cancer, and what that meant for the plan I’d had for my life. I couldn’t deal with everything they were throwing at me.
How can you make wise decisions when you don’t even know what they’re talking about? What about options? I mean, options were never really presented to me. It was more: this is what we’re going to do, and we’re starting on this date. I had to face a lot of those situations, and I learned from trial and error. I’ve learned as I go how to regain my power and comfort in those types of situations.
9. Where do you feel the most comfortable?
In my home – in my personal space – and definitely outside. And by outside I mean on trails, hiking… there’s something very calming and very soothing about nature. And sometimes when life gets a bit chaotic, I need to take away the music and take away the TV and just be by myself; connect with myself and see how I feel.
I think we all need to give ourselves that time to reload.
Especially with stress. From my own personal experience, when I was stressed out I would just go fast. The wheels would start turning and it’s like: if I keep going fast enough, even if I don’t have time to breathe, everything is going to be okay.
I have had to relearn and reprogram this belief. Now, when things get chaotic and I feel overwhelmed, I put on my shoes, grab my two dogs, and I go on a hiking trail. I leave the phone at home. I leave the ipod at home. And I walk. I just keep walking. And when I get back, I always feel better, and I always know what to do.
That works for me, but I know that it doesn’t work for everybody.
10. What do your morning and night rituals look like?
My days have been pretty much the same for over 500 days (March 15th was Violet’s 500th day on the Gerson Therapy). I get up at 7:00am and I start juicing. My last juice is at 7:00pm, and I’m done my therapy by 8, and then by 9:00 I’m hopefully done everything and then I can just read, go to bed… and then start the same routine in the morning.
Yeah, so when I wake up, my main thought is “How much food can I eat in a day?” and that’s kind of my thing. I stop eating at 7:00pm because your system needs time to shut down. And I try to put away the computer then as well, because otherwise I’m thinking of what I left to do. So I’ve really had to work on shutting down and slowing down so that when it is time to go to bed, I can just hit the pillow and fall asleep. It’s so important to sleep. Your body needs that rest. If you wake up in the morning and you’re sluggish, that’s your bodies way of telling you that you’re not completely recharged yet. You have to find your own balance and what works for you.
How many days do you have left on your therapy?
I started the therapy on October 31st. When I arrived at the clinic they said I’d be on it for three years, but I’ve been doing so well that now they’re saying note even 2 years. But from a personal standpoint, I see the benefits of this type of regime and I don’t think I will ever go off of it. I will always eat organic. I’ll always juice. And I do always want to prepare my meals – but it will just be more functionable in my daily life so that I can go out and do things. My life won’t be so centred around my therapy.
But you know I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. When I first started I thought ‘oh, I can’t have a pizza and I can’t ride down to the pub and have a beer and wings with my friends.’ I think I associated food with being social… so I thought I’d be missing out on social aspect of it. But there was no benefit for my health. I’ve just kind of had to change the way I did things. I love this new way, so it doesn’t make sense to go back.
11. How do you practice self-love?
I think it’s an everyday thing. You have good days and you have bad days. And that’s the wonderful thing about being human: you can’t actually reach perfection. I think that through the mistakes that you make, you really learn a lot about yourself. The key to loving yourself is realizing that those mistakes and imperfections aren’t a bad thing, and that you wouldn’t be where you are today if you didn’t have them.
I guess self love is surrendering to what happens and going with the flow. Don’t look at yourself as a disappointment. Unfortunately we don’t know what life is going to throw at us, and maybe we won’t get to our destination… but I think it’s important to enjoy the journey. That way there won’t ever be any regrets.
12. Can you share 10 things that you Crave?
- I CRAVE good food
- I CRAVE love – self love, love from my friends and family, and the unconditional love of when my dog looks up at me like I’m his entire world. That’s really special.
- I CRAVE friendship. My friends are very important to me.
- I CRAVE meaningful interaction with people.
- I CRAVE hikes and going outside.
- I CRAVE knowledge – I am continuously searching for more.
- I CRAVE bettering myself everyday. Everyday I think ‘how can I do things better?’ Not to put pressure on myself, but in a way where I’m always striving to be a better version of myself.
- I CRAVE sales on food. I’m always looking for a new farmer’s market or organic store.
- I CRAVE travel. That is something I used to do, but since I’ve gotten sick I haven’t been able to travel for five years. When everything is good, that’s the first thing that my partner and I are going to do.
- I CRAVE happiness. I work very hard to find everyday happiness. It’s really important to me that when I wake up, if I’m not in a good mood, I do whatever I can to change that mood. Happiness is contagious. There’s an energy to it, and you positively impact others when you’re happy.
Connect with Violet Cameron
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Violet will be appearing as a speaker at our Vancouver CRAVE fuel event on March 25th, 2015.
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