Education, prevention and support for the most serious form of skin cancer.

Marlene Marcello

Marlene MarcelloOn March 19, 1986, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and given less than a year to live. The diagnosis was shocking and terrible. For weeks afterwards, I felt as if I had lost touch with my life and my surroundings. Whenever I allowed myself to feel anything, I was overwhelmed with fear and sadness.

My battle with cancer actually started in 1983, when I found a cancerous mole on  my back. At 37 years old I was married and the mother of four children as well as a successful investment executive. I had everything to live for and was stunned when I heard the diagnosis. Shortly afterwards, I had a cancerous mole removed from my back.

But doctors suspected that the tumor had metastasized. They were right. Later, I found a subsurface lump on my neck, near the site of the original mole. My cancer had returned. My doctors suggested that I have the lymph nodes removed, so I had a lymph node dissection at Mass General Hospital, Boston MA, in July 1984. No chemotherapy or radiation was recommended after the surgery.

Things went well for a while, but a year later, I experienced severe weight loss, dizzy spells, and extreme discomfort. After several mis-diagnoses, and a lot of frustration on my part, my doctors finally made a conclusive diagnosis. My cancer was back. Totally emaciated, I had eight blood transfusions. In March 1986, I was wheeled into surgery at Mass General Hospital, where my surgeon removed 20 inches of intestines and five malignant tumors.

But that was not the end of my cancer. The surgeon wrote in his report that he had left additional lesions and diseased lymph nodes in my body. Unfortunately, he had more bad news for me: After reviewing everything, he gave me only 9 months to live! Distraught, I told my husband and family that I would beat this thing. But even as I said those words, I felt removed from them—and my life.

Nevertheless, I refused to give up. Since chemotherapy wasn’t expected to prolong my life, I began exploring whatever experimental programs Western Medicine had to offer. These programs included interferon, interleukin 2, and a bone marrow transplant. Then my brother introduced me to macrobiotics. With his help, I started looking at a macrobiotic diet and lifestyle.

I knew nothing about macrobiotics prior to my consultation with a senior counselor, but it seemed promising. I started a healing diet in May1986 and watched the quality of my blood change dramatically in six weeks! I continued on a strict diet for two years after that and my cancer went into remission.

In my efforts to heal myself, I explored other non-traditional methods of healing, including visualization and prayer. Keeping a spiritual promise, I conceived a child in early 1988. Three doctors recommended an abortion for health reasons. But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Facing a dilemma, I prayed, talked with religious counselors, and went on a retreat. While there, I decided to have the baby and adhere to my strict diet.

Things went well. In September 1988, I delivered a healthy baby boy. Joseph is now a junior in college. Thankfully, I’ve been free from cancer ever since. I’m currently the longest living, medically documented survivor using a macrobiotic diet integrated with Western medicine.

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