My alkaline diet really did help me survive breast cancer

my alkaline diet really did help me survive breast cancer: Surgery kept her alive, but ex-TV star Marchioness of Worcester insists alternative therapies played a vital part in her recvery

Call it ‘quackery’, but my alkaline diet did help me survive breast cancer: Ex-TV star and Marchioness of Worcester insists alternative therapy was vital in her recovery

By Tracy Worcester

PUBLISHED: 17:13 EST, 26 January 2013 | UPDATED: 20:02 EST, 26 January 2013

I may never know why I developed breast cancer. Just like a slot machine when all the same fruits are lined in a row, I believe that the disease takes hold when there is a line-up of lifestyle and genetic factors. But which applied to me?

None of the women in my family has ever had breast cancer. In his early middle age, my father had intestinal cancer, which was removed – and he lived into his 80s.

As I was over 50, an invitation to have a mammogram arrived but, in the business of life, was ignored. Certainly, my family and friends were surprised that the disease struck me because I have long been an advocate of healthy food.

Natural goodness: Tracy Worcester harvesting organic vegetables in her garden which she claims helped her recover form breast cancer

Natural goodness: Tracy Worcester harvesting organic vegetables in her garden which she claims helped her recover form breast cancer

Due to intensive farming, soil provides 50 times less minerals than it did after the Second World War, so I try to avoid produce fed with chemical fertilisers, or sprayed with pesticides. Food farming is in the grip of corporate giants, which control its production, processing, wholesale and retail industries.

My documentary, Pig Business, which has aired numerous times since 2009, exposes the true cost of cheap meat from factory pig farming. The animals are crammed into crates in unhealthy, overcrowded sheds, and shot full of  antibiotics to keep them alive.

This breeds antibiotic-resistant diseases including campylobacter, salmonella and MRSA. As meat such as pork has become cheaper, so people eat more, which I am convinced has contributed to the rise  of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and, yes, cancer.

So for a long time I have tried to source meat from reputable local sources.

But I have not always been so conscientious – during my acting days in the Eighties, I was a smoker, although not a heavy one. Being pregnant with my first child, Bobby, now 24, was a great incentive to quit.

Protest: Tracey, left, on an environmental protest march after her chemo treatment

Protest: Tracey, left, on an environmental protest march after her chemo treatment

Way back then, I took the Pill – another known risk factor – but not for a prolonged time, and not for the past three decades. I chose not to take HRT, which has also been linked to breast cancer.

Turning back the clock, I can only guess at a few triggers that might have caused mine: I staved off a chest infection from turning to pneumonia with intravenous antibiotics that killed all the good bacteria in my body along with the bad ones.

Fatigue followed and I was diagnosed with overgrowth of candida – a naturally occurring yeast – in my stomach. Perhaps while my body was busy fighting that infection, cancer was left to flourish.

To add to this, I was spending every waking hour researching and editing my film. To relieve this stress, multiplied by having to abandon my kids during their summer holiday, I drank half a bottle of white wine most evenings.

It was March 2009 when I became aware of a pea-sized lump on my right breast. I knew this was potentially very bad news, but I was  too busy to spend too much time worrying. I was 51 at the time.

A few weeks later I went to Bristol to see a doctor. Samples were taken, a biopsy done and I was given the news. According to my medical notes, I had ‘multifocal grade-III invasive ductal carcinoma, 6/19 nodes involved and extensive soft-tissue deposits . . . ER/PgR negative, HER2+’.

Glamorous: Tracy at her 1987 wedding to Henry Somerset, Marquess of Worcester

Glamorous: Tracy at her 1987 wedding to Henry Somerset, Marquess of Worcester

In layman’s terms, I had several tumours in my breast and in six lymph nodes. The cancer was aggressive and had also spread into the tissues of my armpit surrounding the nodes. The daunting treatment was the surgical removal of the nodes under my left arm, a mastectomy – the removal of my breast – chemotherapy, radiotherapy and the drug Herceptin.

Strangely, I wasn’t surprised or distressed. My belief is that cancer is a curse of the developed world, a side effect of food lacking in nutritional value, and the chemicals, not least pesticides, we use in our homes, on our land and in our water. In addition, many of us are excessively stressed. I figured it was simply my turn to suffer from the fallout.

I rang my wise environmentalist friend Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence Magazine, and my natural health doctor, Dr Peter Mansfield.They both said that many people diagnosed with cancer took the complementary medicine route alongside conventional treatment.

This was endorsed by another oncologist, Dr Karol Sikora, who was recommended by Dr Mansfield. He suggested I saw Dr Rosy Daniel, an integrative medical consultant, who recommends a low-acid diet that is organic and fresh.

In essence, Dr Daniel says that after the tumour is removed, the best diet for anyone wishing to prevent cancer is one very rich in fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains and low in animal fats, animal protein, sugar, additives and refined foods.

She recommended two glasses of homemade vegetable juice per day: carrots, melon, beetroot, red peppers, celery, fennel, broccoli, plus ginger for flavour. In the end, I decided to make a salad from these ingredients too.

Dr Daniel told me it is important to make the tissues more alkaline. Inflammation, infection and cancer develop in acidic tissues.

As well as the diet, she recommended immune-boosting slippery elm tablets, Plant Power tablets from Cytoplan, Omega 3 and aloe vera juice. I added a herbal drink called Pure Synergy and I replaced all other beverages with water or green tea, a strong antioxidant.

When I was a youngster I may have cared about losing my breast, but at 51 years old I couldn’t have given a damn.

I was booked in for a mastectomy at The London Clinic, where my skilled surgeon, Gerald Gui, was surprised when he came to my room the morning following the operation to find me editing my film script – at the time, Channel 4 was being threatened with legal action by a pork producer, so I had to back up everything that was said.

Some might call it a diversionary tactic, but I was so focused on my work that I didn’t have time to indulge in worries about a somewhat mutilated body.

Recovery seemed simple and swift. Having all the lymph nodes removed restricted my arm’s flexibility, so prevented me from doing any sports, not least riding, but besides that, I was fine.

The next step was chemotherapy under the care of the excellent Professor Ian Smith at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. This made me sick but not that often, thanks to anti-sickness pills. I felt dizzy on my semi-regular jogs, so took up yoga instead.

On the small screen: Tracy, then Ward, on late 80s TV series C.A.T.S. Eyes

On the small screen: Tracy, then Ward, on late 80s TV series C.A.T.S. Eyes

At one chemo session, I showed the nurse my complementary medication. To my horror she said that I couldn’t take the vitamins, including the high dose of Vitamin C, with the amino acid L-lysine, recommended by Dr Daniel to strengthen my cell walls and keep the cancer from spreading.

The Marsden nurse said that  the supplements might prevent the chemotherapy from whacking  the cancer inside the cells. Apparently, this is a debated issue in the oncology world, but Prof Smith said he had no problem with vitamins alongside chemo.

I am aware that some people  call these alternative approaches quackery. Would I have survived had I taken either course alone?

I just don’t know. I am not a doctor, but I do know that a major study in 2007 showed that a healthy change in diet and exercise doubled the survival rate of breast-cancer patients.

Despite the chemo, I felt completely normal most of the time, so there was no reason to tell anyone and suffer the boredom of people’s questions and pity. Though I told my husband, Harry, I kept it secret from the children until they’d finished their exams – I also have a daughter, Bella, 21, and a younger son Xan, 17. I didn’t want them to be distressed. And I always believed I would get better.

Who did it? Tracy, right, with Stephanie Beacham in the early 90s ITV game show version of 'Cluedo'

Who did it? Tracy, right, with Stephanie Beacham in the early 90s ITV game show version of ‘Cluedo’

My daughter’s only concern was my reaction when she tried to caress my wig, thinking it was my real hair – I had lost my hair as a result of the treatment. That wig, with a short-cut French ‘elf’ look, caused a few other amusing accidents.

During a conversation with my two favourite men – writer and journalist Charlie Glass and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan – a friend wandered past to compliment me on my new hairstyle.

Perhaps not quite believing that the motionless hair was real, she stroked it, shifting the whole thing across my head. To my amazement, Imran and Charles didn’t register anything. Presumably they couldn’t believe what their brain briefly told them, or I moved it back so fast that they genuinely didn’t notice.

Chemo was followed by radiotherapy, and then daily doses of the drug Herceptin. I finished treatment in early 2010.

I’ve kept up my dietary changes and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt healthier and more vital. I no longer need an afternoon siesta to work into the evening or to go out at night.

My oncologist gave me a 50 per cent chance of the cancer returning. The good news is that three years later and after a blood test and mammogram, I am apparently still free of the disease.

However, it could reappear. Only if I live past the five-year marker can I be an example of how complementary medicine can work alongside conventional medicine.

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Comments (26)

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Lauren – a type of fungus – are you really that stupid? Dave , Gosport, United Kingdom, 27/1/2013 00:36——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— I had face cancer three years ago. I have a very pretty face but it would no longer have been had I had it sliced the way the specialist wanted. I researched online and discovered a site which mentioned that yes, cancer is a fungus and my face cancer would be cured if I treated it with 15% iodine. Dave you have obviously never had cancer and know nothing of how desperate it makes someone feel. Believe me you would try anything. I treated my face cancer with iodine and it was cured within 10 days. I now look at my unmarked face ¿ am I really that stupid? No, I do not think so.

Lauren , Australia, 27/1/2013 02:58

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One woman’s experience is meaningless. What is she a clinical trial of one? And at her age she would expect a five year survival period – whatever she did. Yes: call them Complementary therapies – not Alternative. Complementary therapies have little or no levels of scientific evidence to back them up. Those who rejects orthodox treatment in order to try Complementary treatment alone need their heads examined – for any type of cancer.

Clive Deverall , Perth, Australia, 27/1/2013 02:30

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I had breast cancer 21 years ago, my survival is thanks to chemotherapy mastectomy and good luck, I had two types one invasive. I am fully aware that 5 years don’t count for BC that it can come back, there is no scientific proof of how to prevent breast cancer.

dreaming , USA, 27/1/2013 01:55

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This is absolutely correct as research will show. Many ways of preventing cancer and also cures but the health industry do not want cures that cannot be patented and make lots of money. Browse One Answer to Cancer and watch video. However , keeping the body slightly alkaline helps combat disease. Do you reckon the sickness industry will allow us to be healthy, not likely.

seafarer , perth, Australia, 27/1/2013 01:54

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It’s sad how ignorant the majority of people are. Keep stuffing yourselves with chemicals every day keep eating your anti biotic meat and artificial sweeteners until you have no more immune system, and then if something to happen to you? Take more chemicals… Zombie population. and please red arrow me, backs up how ignorant you all are.

smith , west sussex, 27/1/2013 01:34

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These claims, which have been rife amongst the complementary and alternative community for years, are based on anecdotal and poor quality evidence, whilst actively ignoring real science. The body is amazingly capable of maintaining a neutral blood pH level of 7.35 to 7.45 regardless of what you eat. Rare cases where the blood pH level manages to exceed either end of this natural range can cause acidosis or alkalosis, both if which can have serious health complications. Regardless, I don’t doubt that a healthy diet and exercise can have protective effects against cancer. It is important that CAM practitioners market their treatments as complementary rather than alternative, and don’t discourage their patients from seeking conventional life-saving treatments. At the same time, it’s good of medical doctors to allow patients to continue taking their CAM therapies so as not to alienate them from conventional medicine.

Jess , Sydney, 27/1/2013 01:33

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It reminds me of the cures for warts; peeing on a wart or soaking in in bread and milk are meant to kill warts. Neither does of course, but warts go on their own eventually, so it just depends on what wacky method you were using when the wart died of its own accord. Same here, the surgery and chemo removed the cancer, the diet was just a coincidental placebo. Eating only marmite on toast would have had the same effect. It wasn’t the diet, but you that beat the cancer.

It is worth noting however that 100 years ago, just 3% of deaths annually were due to cancer, now it is almost 40%, why the jump? She may not be totally deluded.

Bill , Nottingham, 27/1/2013 01:10

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Acidic foods such as lemons, limes and tomato are acidic in their basic state, but once metabolized by the body have an alkalising effect.- Lauren, Australia, 27/1/2013 0:37 <<<>>> Yes of course it does. And the proof of this is? Explain the chemistry where an acid turns into a base. Geez, the cancer was removed by treatment, nothing to do with diet

salerio , horsham, 27/1/2013 01:07

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It’s not quackery. Food that appear to be acid turn to alkaline in the body, like lemons. Cancer only grows in an acid body.

becky , manchester, 27/1/2013 00:58

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Breast cancer at this age and this type had a good five year survival anyway (without precise details it’s hard to say for sure, but it’s at least 85% and probably more), and she’s not even at five years, if 9 out of 10 women would be alive anyway, one women on one diet is meaningless, chances are she could have eaten nothing but junk food for the past four years and still been here today.

Anne Harrison , Cambridge, United Kingdom, 27/1/2013 00:57

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