My name is Zena, I was born in Cyprus but grew up in Athens. Since 2001 I have been living in London. In 2017, aged 47, my life changed in a moment when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the following year I had all three major treatments at the public health system in the UK (NHS): chemotherapy, radiotherapy and extensive mastectomy. Shortly after, in 2018, a bomb blew up: a bone metastasis was found, which means that my breast cancer has spread and I was classified as Stage 4 (incurable). The prognosis I was given at the time was 5 to 10 years at best. I’ve started this fundraiser because I need money to access a potentially life-saving therapy that unfortunately is not available at the NHS. 

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I’m a fighter. I fought and I survived the treatments and the emotional hardship of the diagnosis itself in 2017. In 2018, after the initial devastation I felt, that lasted a few months after I was told that I was now incurable, I began to think about my choices. Must I accept the prognosis as my destiny and start preparing for the inevitable? No. I want to fight. I want to beat the odds I was given. So I got to work, and through extensive research, I’ve identified a treatment – the Gerson Therapy – that promises much better odds of survival for cancer patients with a similar medical profile as myself. Unfortunately, this treatment is not available at the NHS.

Gerson Therapy is costly. It is costly, firstly because it requires huge quantities of organic produce (65-70kg weekly) and daily intake of a set of powerful supplements. For the next two years I’ll be following a strict, demanding and all-consuming regimen that makes it impossible for me to work even part-time. 

I love life and I want to work and find love and give back and laugh and enjoy all small and big things again. But without the necessary funds, I won’t be able to have the treatment I need. Please donate to help me beat the odds and survive my metastatic breast cancer. I cannot do this without you! 

Please continue reading if you wish to learn more about my journey and why I chose the Gerson Therapy. 

Follow my progress on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/zena.papaphoti.5

Please donate! Thank you ever so much! 

 

My Journey

Diagnosis, Treatments, Metastasis 

In 2017 Ι was spending Easter with my family in Greece, when I was told that a mammogram I had done looked suspicious. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 47. I immediately returned to London where I got a referral for a biopsy. And my long and bumpy journey began.

Over the following year, I underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, which had me rushed to the Accident & Emergency twice, radiation, mastectomy and two smaller surgeries. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy had no effect on the tumour. Radiation followed and, finally, the cancer that could be accessed was removed with surgery.

I dove into the treatments with the attitude that this was war, and I was going to summon all my strength to fight this. And I did, I fought, and I won. I made it through the mother of all treatment protocols and so I felt it was time to rest, recover and return to my life.

I spent the months that followed coming to terms with having to live with cancer and all of its risks for the rest of my life, and I could see light at the end of the tunnel: I would do my best to recover from the treatments, I would return to work and to my friends and I would visit my family again. My life would go on, forever changed but with hope.

Unfortunately, this didn’t last long. A new scan in 2018 showed a bone metastasis. I was in pieces. The sense of slowly regaining some control over my life disappeared overnight. Now I was faced with a grim prognosis of five to 10 years at best. If my body responded well to the NHS treatment, I’d make it to 57. 

 

The NHS 

Before I get to the Gerson Therapy, let me just say that, apart from the overwhelming support I received from my family, I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without the NHS when the cancer diagnosis was dropped on me.

Since 2017, apart from my major treatments and surgeries, I’ve done no less than 30 small procedures and scans, and I am nothing if not grateful I was offered them. 

Since 2018, I’ve been on three types of pills, one that treats my thyroid, one that inhibits the production of female hormones and another that disrupts the Krebs cycle of cells in my body. The latter is a new type of light chemo. I also receive a shot every six months of a drug that reduces my risk of bone fractures and it also lowers high levels of calcium in the blood which can happen in secondary bone cancer.

The problem is that my current treatment, and all others that I was told will most certainly follow, each has an expiry date because eventually cancer adapts, and they stop working. Their function is to try and keep the cancer ‘at bay’ for as long as possible. If you are metastatic, the treatments in the NHS’ artillery can only take you as far as extending your life by a few years at best. For the NHS, metastatic cancer patients are considered as being incurable.

Covid-19

The pandemic brought new challenges. I’ve been classified as being at high risk due to the light chemo part of my current treatment that weakens my immune system. I lost my hair once more and my new vulnerability against the virus took away the person-to-person support network I had in place, and it added isolation and loneliness to the challenges I was already facing. 

But as much as I have been affected by the pandemic, and despite how much I long not to be as vulnerable to viruses, my prognosis alone (5-10 years at best – now 3-6), means I won’t make it to 60, and it’s almost certain that I will spend my last months or years subjected to stronger and more toxic treatments that the doctors will be throwing at the cancer in the hope of giving me a few more months.

The Gerson Therapy 

My prognosis, that was presented to me as inevitable, gave me an even stronger desire to live. I believe in my heart that I can aspire to replace a statistical and anonymous diagnosis with hard-earned hope. This is my reason; this is why I  searched, and searched, till I found the treatment that delivers much (much!) better odds to someone like me. 

 

What exactly is the Gerson therapy? 

It is a 12-hour daily program that lasts for two years. No improvising, no breaks, no cheating! It is labour intensive and it involves the daily preparation of 13 freshly made juices, three meals (including breakfast) and four enemas that are distributed throughout the day. It also involves regular intake of supplements. Each of those supplements plays its part in the healing process by targeting a different aspect of the disease.

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Altogether the Gerson Therapy aims to restore the cancer patient’s immune system which is clearly in decline, as the appearance and growth of cancer indicates. 

The process takes two years and it’s no wonder it does! Restoring an immune system that is damaged enough to allow cancer to grow, is a long and systematic process of recreating in the body the memory of what cancer cells look like, and how to destroy them, a task that a healthy immune system performs effortlessly. 

Cheating or taking a break from the, admittedly, strict regime, would put the process of repair at risk. The Gerson therapy is in no way merely nutritional advice. It is a science-based protocol, and everything on the treatment schedule is there for a reason. You would be interrupting your cells from relearning how to feed properly, how to regularly get rid of toxic debris and how to recognise and destroy cancer cells that float around in the body. Rebuilding this long term memory in the body on a cellular level, is the ultimate goal of the Gerson Therapy. 

I trust the Gerson therapy. In the many years since Dr Max Gerson put this protocol together, they’ve had a high success rate with cancer patients, a lot of them terminal and hopeless, willing to try the therapy because their doctor had exhausted all treatments in their disposal and had written them off. Take melanoma for example, that is considered to be one of the hardest cancers to beat, the survival rates on the Gerson Therapy in contrast to rates on prevailing treatments (chemotherapy, cytokines), are eye opening to the therapy’s efficacy. 

The Gerson protocol has gone through some adjustments and improvements through the years but it has remained virtually unchanged because it is based on sound science and it works as it is. Dr Max Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 97, continued her father’s work with devotion and integrity. The doctors at the Gerson Institute, which she founded in 1978, continue her work now with the same devotion. 

I trust Gerson because of the protocol’s integrity. It is strict and precise because it is based on solid science, and it works. It’s not about fashion and it’s not a passing trend like so many others are. It’s neither commercial nor it is designed to flatter and mislead: it does not promise instant solutions and magic pills. To the contrary: I know that the next two years will be challenging at times, but my goodness am I looking forward to giving it my best shot!

And I need all the support I can get! Please donate, to help me get my healing journey started. 

How much does it cost? 

The therapy costs approximately £1,500 a month, and my living expenses are £600 monthly. This brings the total cost of this 2-year endeavour to £50,400.

In the monthly living expenses I have included the dental procedures that are necessary to do before and during the therapy, namely, root canal removal and amalgam fillings removal. The Gerson dental guidelines are described in detail on the Institute’s website (please click on the link below). 

Other one-off expenses include the special juicer, the distiller and the home training pack. Over the past couple of years I’ve saved up for those and I’ve gradually purchased all three. 

If you are interested in a monthly breakdown of the cost of Gerson Therapy, please do contact me directly, I will be happy to provide all the details. 

While on the Gerson Therapy, how will I know what to do and if I’m doing well?       

Practical knowledge 

The home training pack: it contains step by step instructions and practical tips that will make up for the two-week start-off program at the Gerson clinic that I won’t be able to attend due to pandemic. The book by Charlotte Gerson “Healing the Gerson Way: Defeating Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases” in which Charlotte explains in detail the hows and whys of each Gerson component. Since I will be doing the treatment at home from the start, the step-by-step instructions and practical tips in the package and the Gerson textbook by Charlotte will both be very useful.

Medical care 

Every Gerson patient, having attended the clinic or not, eventually continues with the therapy at home and so will I. My progress on the therapy will be monitored on a monthly basis with blood tests and twice a year with scans, and via my consultations with a licenced Gerson doctor but also with my oncologist at the NHS. I’d like to stress that I don’t intend on ending my relationship with the NHS. There will be a transition period of a few months that I will be both on Gerson and on the medication I’m prescribed by my oncologist. Until the first concrete results from the Gerson Therapy start to show on my scans, at which point it will only make sense to reevaluate the sense in taking medication that is toxic to the liver, in order to allow my body to complete the repairing of my immune system. 

Getting help at home 

The Gerson recommendation is to embark on the therapy with the daily help of a companion – a family member or a friend. The realistic option for my circumstances would be to employ someone part time, however this would almost double up the cost so I’ve opted out. Instead, I’m counting on my personal strength, my perseverance and on the much appreciated help from friends and from Gerson volunteers; but most importantly, to get the treatment going, I’m counting on your support. I’m counting on your kind donation! 

Thank you for your support!

If you would like to learn more about the Gerson treatment, please follow the links below. 

I know that there are many people out there battling cancer or supporting a loved one who suffers. If by sharing my story, or by making known my intention to start the Gerson Therapy, I have positively contributed to one person’s journey toward hope and recovery, or toward disease-prevention and better quality of life, this togetherness motivates me even more to keep going. I am not alone! You are not alone!

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