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Is going insane a sign of cancer?

Paul McMullan photo
Paul McMullanCanterbury Hospital
Is going insane a sign of cancer?
An ultra-vegan experiment to starve cancer backfired with terrible consequences

I believe in reiki. It is just a bunch of people lying down on beds with someone standing above them touching them. I feel strangely calm afterwards. The power of touch is fine. It is real.

I also believe, in the guy who comes round the cancer wards preaching veganism and junking all food that comes in a packet, think about it, it is really difficult, there is so little you can eat.

He was booted out of my local clinic, which makes me like him all the more. “Get this bloody alternative weirdo out of here,” they said, “he should have been dead years ago.” Infact 16 years ago now, when he was given 2 years to live, and he chucked their drugs in the bin and went ultra vegan.

We both have cancer inside us, today, now and everything we put into our mouths feeds that ancient Greek crab first and it is hungry to grow. If only you could starve the beast inside.

You can.

Eat nothing and the crab must die, he eats exactly what we do with a bit of a twist on the glucose processing. Jam buns and sweets, yum, click,click, click another tumour fed.

The problem is, you also kill the host.

It was Hippocrates who called my disease the crab. Why is lost in history and it is scientific nonsense but a good mental image. What would the crab not like? My new friend says vegan food. I am not surprised it is fucking horrible. The doctors scoffed but the proof is in his pudding or lack of. I was also given 2 years, I wanted to give it a try. I had little to lose.

So there I was in January busily trying to stock up with a bag of barley. OK I cheated but how the hell do you get the barley from the shop to the pot without some kind of packet. At least it wasn’t a colourful box of sugar puffs about the only way most people ever get to see the stuff. My packet was plain, like the contents, no refined anything, nothing remotely processed and as a result super cheap and super bloody good for you.

Or is it?

My onc hates vegans. She is the one who suggested the ‘long term survivor against the odds’ was banned from the wards.

“Your body is weak, you must fight the cancer by giving yourself strength, have steak, have scones with clotted cream and lashings of strawberry jam and cover it in sugar, it doesn’t matter. Eat, eat, eat,” says Dr Jin Lindsay, as she weighs you every week

“If your weight falls too low you can be refused chemo as you are just not strong enough to cope.” Apparently she is brilliant so clearly I ignore everything she says. But she doesn’t know how long I have had cancer. I don’t know how long I have had cancer, but I do know every major decision I have taken for the last couple of years, maybe three or four has been a disaster. Could cancer alter the way you think. It certainly does when you find out because you panic about imminent death. But with cancer of the blood, the stuff whizzing through our brains, could that affect us too. I used to be so cool, wafting through life, most things worked out, I think I was a success and then but then disaster, after disaster, after disaster. I could get nothing right, suddenly my classic sports cars I loved tinkering with sold for a loss, the pub started failing, my marriages went wrong.

I have myeloma, cancer of the very source of your blood, the marrow inside your bones where it is made and to be honest with myself I have to admit I have for the first time in my half century on the planet, scared myself with my behaviour.

Could it be just the diet? Diet can radically influence behaviour. I know that, I have experienced that and I will explain later but could it also be the cancer. For a handful of years unknown to me cancer was feeding on my vital nutrients, I was getting thin. Everyone commented. I just thought I was working out too much. My life was making me deeply unhappy, was the cancer changing the way I thought and acted. There are many books which suggest bad things in your personal life like divorces and losing your job cause cancer. Millions of people believe it because it seems often the case. My wife aborted our last child, I was devastated and believe the cancer started there about 5 years ago. But my wife aborted our last child because I had become a bit of a monster. I think it is the other way round. Bad things do not give us cancer, it is the cancer itself already there that changes us from within.

I don’t know but I wasn’t really a monster at News of the World. It just looked like that. I had plenty of compassion for the victims of the wars I was sent to cover.

But earlier this year I was a monster armed with no more than a pot of barley, and I mean the biggest pot you have ever seen. I could only just fit it in the door of the camper van; you see I was going on holiday to Brighton.

Not a great adventure but my neutrophil or white blood infection fighting cell count was still too low, so when you can’t be more than 20 minutes from a hospital in case of sepsis your options are limited. Opportunistic infections have sent me to A&E three times, I spent 5 weeks in isolation. I can’t imagine trying to explain the urgency in a foreign land.

But it was a nice van picked up from a rental depot near Gatwick, almost 100,000 quids worth. Cooker, heater, fridge, TV, all mod cons. I should have listened when they explained how everything worked.

This is relevant as I ate only barley for 4 fucking days. I was not only sick of it, I had a distended belly and something else happened.I went mad. I mean really. The intended love bus of romance crashed because a mental monster was driving it.

The blood tests showed, due to the cancer or diet or both I was deficient in B12. It’s subtle. You can still laugh and cry but there is an underlying desperation. When you are very, very hungry or very, very tired there is no time for pleasantries or being nice. It feels a bit like that. There is no time to remember you have to treat your woman correctly. You have to open the door for her, ask if she is happy, hold her hand. All the things that come naturally when you are well fed and watered.

The textbook symptoms are confusion, extreme irritability, feeling dizzy and mood swings, the real life version is you forget to treat your lover like a princess you are so wrapped up in yourself and your hunger for the vital nutrients that make you body and brain work correctly.

I hated every minute of this camping holiday when only a few years before I had the time of my life in a van at a rock festival. So it wasn’t the van.

I could hear the words coming out of my mouth. I was shouting and saying horrible things to my wife-to-be. But as I was shouting, I was also thinking, “no, please stop this, what the fuck are you saying.” But I couldn’t stop this. It just came out. I am so sorry. Tired, hungry, full of cancer. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me at all.

I had the love of my life next to me, but she was irritating the hell out of me. “Don’t touch me,” I shouted. I pushed her away. Affection was making my skin crawl. It just was. It just was. She was shocked. This was the girl I was supposed to marry. I was shocked. I couldn’t stop it.

I have to ask myself honestly, could it have been the fact I didn’t want to get married and the stress was building up and like the shaken coca cola bottle it just popped.

But no, I think it was the cancer, exacerbated by a piss poor diet. Seven months of not eating a cake, drinking a glass of wine. No relief, no let up. But there was something else an inner voice telling me what I was doing was wrong. I have never heard it before.

The madness of cancer. It is real.

I went straight to the doctor back home, there was something badly wrong, and a couple of days ago I had a shot in the arm. Oh relief. I felt the needle go in and was instantly wrapped in a cloak of calm. Not heroin but B12 in a bright red liquid filled syringe. The chemical brothers rejoice. We are just a squirt from paradise. Well not quite, it takes a couple of days to work. The placebo worked immediately. There was a reason, just to know that, was enough.

You know, if you don’t eat enough B12, it can actually kill you and B12 as all vegans who have bothered to read up on it, know, comes from cute fluffy animals, you have to bash and skin before you can gorge on this life sustaining vitamin.

You get so used to vitamins advertised on the sides of boxes, well I don’t, as I don’t buy anything in a box, my only bin is the toilet and my only rubbish comes out of my arse, you don’t realise they are what keeps us sane and alive.

I seriously thought of booting the woman I worship and adore out of the van at 50mph and dumping her body on the hard shoulder.

Er, yes your honour, lack of B12, had to do it, fuck she was irritating. Hey I am writing this after taking the B12, I can be funny again or at least try.

And well, I am on the straight and narrow now and I am applying for a shotgun licence so I can blast the crap out of bunny wabbbits and skin them with my teeth and suck their blood. No packets there.

I apologise for the swearing but I think you can guess what I just had for dinner. A plate of bastard barley. Seriously, I went back to my mother’s house and she had made it specially.

#Camper, #news of the world, #b12, #vitamin deficiency, #myeloma, #bastard barley