Dr Ruby Lathon on overcoming cancer – “My holistic healing journey”October 16, 2018
Dr. Ruby Lathon had always believed that the body can heal itself and in January 2007 she was given the opportunity to put that belief to the test. When she received the news that she had thyroid cancer, she resolved to find an alternative to surgery and began a quest to heal her body naturally.
She discovered how to use food as medicine and embarked on a spiritual journey of self-awareness, inner healing, and a deepened faith in God. Taking a hiatus from a successful engineering career, Dr. Lathon began teaching others about the healing powers of plant-based nutrition. We spoke with her to find out more…
How would you describe your diet and lifestyle before your cancer diagnosis?
Before the diagnosis, I was really focused on exercise and weight loss, so I was eating what I thought was a very healthy diet. I was a vegetarian and was following my personal trainer’s suggestions on what to eat but I was eating a lot of boxed and processed food, and a lot of dairy and eggs for protein. Even though I thought it was the healthy version of things, I really wasn’t eating many fresh foods. I was on the go a lot, so the majority of what I would eat would be something I could just grab and go; from cereal bars to a frozen, “healthy” microwaved dinner.
Also at the time I was working with a small engineering company that I helped build and the partnership wasn’t going well. I knew that I needed to leave, but didn’t have a clear plan. I was travelling constantly and I was stressed because I was doing a lot. When you’re working with a small business you tend to do a little of everything; marketing, software development, sales presentations, plus all the little pieces in between. So stress was definitely taking a toll on me.
Looking back, what do you think was the major thing that was limiting your healing potential?
I think there are a couple of things that were probably limiting my healing potential. One was just lack of knowledge about how to heal. As someone who’d come in contact with people who had healed themselves naturally from cancer and other illnesses, I always thought that if I ever got a serious illness I would try the natural approach, just because I believed their testimonials and it made sense to me. But I was someone who had never really had any health issues other than acne so I had never researched how illness occurs or what to do.
Once I chose to take the natural approach, the biggest barrier for me was the emotional piece. I really jumped on the nutritional piece right away and I understood the need for stress reduction but really getting into the mind and body connection was a little bit of a barrier for me. Being a very logical person, I needed to know exactly why it would work.
So it required a lot more research and just relaxing and trusting my intuition; learning how to get in tune with the body by listening to it and understanding that it actually gives you signals. I wasn’t looking after my emotional health earlier on, which I now realise was a bit of a barrier to my healing but once I got over that hurdle things started to fall in place.
Did you experience any fear in making the decision to heal naturally on your own and if so, how did you overcome it?
Initially I did. It was a mix between defiance and fear because the doctors were telling me to do surgery and that was really the only conventional treatment they were recommending for me. That meant removing my thyroid completely and replacing the function of the thyroid with medication. To me that sounded like such an extreme option; to remove a functioning organ that was working fine otherwise and then depending upon a medication for the rest of my life.
Something inside me just said, “No, I’m not doing that”. Because I felt that so strongly I immediately started researching my options. Also, the endocrinologist, who was very negative, initially helped build that defiance because he told me that I could do what I wanted for a couple of months and he was still going to schedule the surgery a few months out. He was pretty much taking charge of my life right then. I was like, “Wait a minute; I think I get to decide that”.
He said I could do what I wanted but no one’s ever been healed naturally from thyroid cancer. To me it almost sounded like the gauntlet had been thrown down.
So I just had this determination that stemmed from defiance but at the same time I had to come to grips with the possibility that the natural approach might not work. Fortunately the type of cancer I had was slow growing so I had time to change courses if I really needed to. I decided that I was going to do everything I possibly could within my control and if it didn’t work I would do the surgery as a last resort; at least then I would be able to do it with peace knowing that I took charge and did everything I possibly could.
I had to let go of the fear and then I had to get rid of negative people, particularly physicians. I changed doctors and assembled a team that supported the approach I wanted to take. Beyond that, prayer really helped me get over the fear.
I put it in God’s hands. I trusted that I wouldn’t have more than I could handle and that’s what really got me through.
We’re not taught to take charge of our own health anymore. How important is that?
I work with people who have diagnoses that they don’t understand, they just know the name of the illness. I tell them that they really need to know what is going on. They need to ask more questions and ask for their charts because it’s highly important.
I always asked the doctors to give me my chart. Then I was able to look at them and that’s how I found out that my thyroid was actually shrinking to normal size by comparing my charts from a few months earlier to a current test. It wasn’t because my doctor actually looked at it and told me. If I hadn’t been looking at my own charts I wouldn’t have known that and that’s what helped me continue on the journey to heal.
How did your family and friends react to the decision that you made?
My family was supportive. I explained to them what I was going to do and they were concerned but they were very positive. They never discouraged me from taking the natural path, they were there every step of the way. My friends on the other hand, were more sceptical. But, I know they were coming from a place of concern. I felt a little bit alone out there because most of my family lived far away and it was just me going through it but I had their support and that helped a lot.
What kind of advice would you give to people that feel like they’re on their own without support after they’ve made their decision?
I had a friend who was studying to be a naturopathic doctor and she was totally in my corner and really helped walk me through it. Having her to advise me on a lot of things was really empowering. I also had a really good team of people who believed in the holistic approach and that really helped a lot.
So I think it’s important to find at least one knowledgeable person to support you because it can be a very daunting task and it’s important to not be fearful that you’re not doing the right thing.
There are a number of holistic physicians, naturopathic doctors, and chiropractors who follow holistic methods. You want support from someone who’s had real experience with helping someone to heal.
What things did you do as part of your healing protocol?
I switched to a plant-based diet and that was based on my research. I found over and over how a completely plant-based, whole-food diet heals the body. So I got rid of all of the boxed, processed foods and dairy that I was eating. My refrigerator went from containers to fresh produce. I also started juicing every day because it’s very powerful for healing the body.
I had the benefit of going to a lifestyle treatment centre in Alabama for about three weeks to learn how to use food as medicine and that really gave me the jumpstart on what to do; learning how to boost the immune system with foods like garlic and leeks and onions and lots of greens, and using herbal teas that help build the immune system. One that’s very common for cancer is Essiac tea. Then I started focusing on supplements that would help build the body like shitake mushroom, algae water, vitamin c and systemic enzymes to help reduce inflammation, flax oil for omega 3 fatty acids.
Are there any significant moments that you can pinpoint during your healing journey?
For the first five to six months, I was very anxious about the process. I’d go for my ultrasound and I’d be very nervous, hoping that the tumour was shrinking and thinking that it should be gone by now. It was stressful. I realised I needed to let go of that stress and follow what felt right. So I took a vacation with my sister on a beach in Mexico because I needed to get away and unplug and stop all the research. As I was sitting there on the beach I knew that I had to let go, relax, cut down on what I was doing and believe, truly believe in the process.
I had to let the stress go and allow my body to heal. So I came up with a more simplified nutrition plan where I really focused on what my body really needed to heal; boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, eat healthy food, that’s it.
Then the rest of the time I focused on meditation and visualisation and once I did that everything was different. I just relaxed and I felt good, I felt empowered.
That’s when I started seeing things like my thyroid shrinking; that was the turning point – really trusting the process and not allowing stress to worsen it.
So acknowledging the mind, body, spirit connection is a really important part of the healing process?
Exactly, that to me is the key. You can take all the supplements you want but if you’re super stressed then you’re counteracting those things so it has to be a holistic approach.Often disease shows up for a reason in our lives and it’s not just because we ate badly sometimes, it’s because we haven’t dealt with emotional issues that we needed to.
For me, I needed to learn how to speak up more. Even though I had this defiance, I was also the consummate peacekeeper and didn’t say what I needed to say and the thyroid, when there is an expanding goiter, can eventually interfere with your vocal chords if it grows too large. I started learning about this and I realised that it was teaching me that I need to learn to speak up and defend myself.
Looking at life circumstances that are going on when an illness presents itself, even if it’s been going for years, can be really telling about what we need to do during the healing process to deal with things and to change those things for good in order to stay well.
So tell us about how you got the all-clear…
I was monitoring my thyroid via ultrasound. A way to monitor my progress would be to see if the cancerous tumour was shrinking and going away, but it wasn’t, it was staying exactly the same. After about twelve months I’d been going through this process and I asked the doctor if we could re-biopsy the tumour because based on the research that I’d done, oftentimes the body just encapsulates things and turns it from cancerous to benign even though the tumour is still there.
Reluctantly he did the biopsy and a week later the results came back and showed that not only were some of the other nodules on my thyroid benign but the previously cancerous one was as well.
So right there in front of me he changed my diagnosis from follicular thyroid cancer to nodular thyroid – I no longer had cancer! I was overjoyed. I literally wished I could have done cartwheels right there in his office, that’s how happy I was.
So what are you doing to help people now that are going through a similar experience to the one you had?
A large part of what I do is education; I give lots of talks, workshops, classes, seminars on holistic health, healing from cancer, building the immune system and the importance of the food we eat. I provide nutritional coaching, do quite a few cooking and nutrition classes, including the cooking show the “Veggie Chest”, and I also work with other practitioners who handle other pieces of this puzzle.
Sometimes we need a little bit more than just nutritional intervention, we need a doctor who knows how to take a natural approach to healing as well, so I work with holistic physicians, and with another naturopathic doctor, and with other people who deal with more the emotional side of things to bring all those elements together. Depending on what people need we can help them on any front. But the emphasis is on educating people to give them the tools they need to start the healing process or to stay well.
Is there a particular message you want readers to take away from your story?
I want people to know that what I did is accessible to anyone, that you can do the same thing. It’s just about making that decision first and then getting the information.
It’s never too late to change your diet or your lifestyle.
A lot of people have had miraculous recoveries even in late stage diseases. Eating healthy, supplementing and juicing is going to be beneficial regardless of where you are in the healing process. I didn’t overcome my health issues because I’m super special, it’s because I made a determined decision to do it and anyone can decide to do it as well.
To find out more about Dr. Ruby Lathon’s work, including recipes, details on where she’ll be appearing and how you can work with her and her team, visit her website. You can also connect with her via Facebook and Twitter.
As a writer, Emma’s work has been featured in other popular well-being and spiritual websites such as Elephant Journal, IVORY magazine, and she’s part of the Huffington Post’s team of regular bloggers. Her writing was also included in the Tiny Buddha book 365 Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha,released in 2015 by HarperCollins.
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