Daily Mail June 4, 1996
No one is immune to cancer, not even a Countess. Undeterred, Sally Baldwin fought back with a diet of vegetable juices. This is her amazing story.
IN THE face of almost certain death from breast cancer, Sally Baldwin, 54-year-old wife of Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, steadfastly refused chemotherapy and opted for a remarkable alternative therapy known as the Gerson Regime. For Lord Baldwin, grandson of the late prime minister Stanley Baldwin, it was a stark act of faith in the unorthodox remedies he promotes as joint chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Neither his nor his wife's faith wavered, even when the cancer returned with a vengeance and it seemed that Sally could have had only months to live ...
by Countess Baldwin of Bewdley
ON A sweltering day in July 1993 I was diagnosed with breast cancer - a 2in tumour which had begun to spread to the lymph nodes under my right arm -yet I was shivering as my husand Edward and I returned to break the news to our three boys.
I hadn't suspected cancer because it was not a lump but a deep, uncomfortable mass. A biopsy showed that it was a Grade 2, Stage III infiltrating ductal carcinoma (there are three grades and four stages).
Tears and eerie silences followed. Friends would hold my hand and cry, while I tried to assure them I wasn't about to die. Mostly, however, we basked in warmth and kindness, as people responded in their own way to show how much they cared.
Edward was well-informed. He saw the situation as a challenge and I feel I owe my life to his constant support and encouragement.
We decided on a treatment devised by the German doctor Max Gerson, described by Albert Schweitzer as 'one of the most eminent geniuses in medical history', who had some remarkable successes with so-called incurable cancers. He later moved to the U.S. but his unconventional methods fell foul of the authorities, so his daughter Charlotte set up a clinic in Mexico.
Our surgeon was keen to start orthodox treatment but was prepare d to accept complementary medcine in addition. However, Edward and I chose not to accept orthodox treatment at this point, particularly the very aggressive chemotherapy on offer. It does not combine well with the more natural approach of the Gerson Regime, which we thought offered my best chance of survival and had no side-effects.
The programme consists of fresh carrot, apple arid green vegetable juices to boost the immune system, three square meals, plus coffee enemas which stimulate bile, detoxify the liver and act as painkillers and anti-depressants. plus numerous medications.
Initially the diet is vegan, with plenty of organic vegetables and fruit and strictly no salt or fat. It takes a good two years, preferably with rest, a peaceful, unpolluted environment and plenty of support, to restore the liver and to get the body working normally again but it can be done.
The idea of the regime caused consternation among our friends because of its bizarre nature. Somebody asked whether I would do it 'right to the bitter end'. I was tempted to reply: 'No. I'm saving two chocolate bars for the last day.
It was an almost full-time job. The day began at 6.3Oam and ended after 10.30pm, with 13 hourly juices and five enemas every day. Uncomplainingly, our boys Ben, then 19, Jamie 17. and Mark, 13, learned how to make the juices and cook for themselves and we had outside help. However, after two months the tumour had increased to 4in and eventually I sadly agreed to a mastectomy.
Yet the scar tissue became a malignant plaque and I was told the outlook was 'gloomy'. At worst I could be dead in three months. Edward and I decided the time had come to fly out to Mexico. (Our departure was much cheered by my 82-year-old father, sporting a barrister's wig and battery-operated eyebrows.)
There I discovered I had been making serious mistakes in the regime, especially by not drinking the juices fresh enough and so missing most of the vitamins and enzymes. I had lost six months and would have to start the two-year programme again. I was among the 15 per cent of patients most difficult to treat and even the Gerson Clinic could not promise to help me at this stage. How I wished I had gone out there at once.
I was determined to live and continually visualised myself fully well. I began to recover, thanks to daily visits from my wise, experienced doctor and innumerable treatments such as hydrotherapy, ozone therapy and clay poultices. We decided I should stay longer but Edward had to return to the family and parting was painful.
Gradually, I came to feel intense joy, alone in that whitewashed room overlooking the Pacific sunsets, grateful to be given the chance to start my life again.
It was immensely inspiring, more like a holiday than being in hospital and Charlotte Gerson gave us very uplifting talks. I made friends with patients from all over the world.
MANY were far from wealthy; for example, a talented British conductor was being paid for by donations from his orchestra. Although most were at the end of the road when they arrived, there was much laughter and fun. My cancer regressed and after eight weeks I came back with newfound confidence.
Life during the next two years was like a game of snakes and ladders. Falling downstairs I fractured my sacrum (the lower part of the spine) and new lumps began to appear rapidly. I lost the will to live, which was devastating for the family who had been so brave and cheerful.
A healing service at Coventry Cathedral was a crucial turning point. It raised my spirits once more and we went there regularly. Despite this, the malignant area slowly progressed.
My surgeon decided on a complex operation, which involved replacing cancerous tissue on my chest with a large flap of skin from my back. He did a supremely skilful job and it 'took'. Friends brought juices and food to the hospital and I even gave myself five enemas a day.
I had been warned that I could be in excruciating pain but I relied on the coffee enemas and had almost none. The cancer was now only Grade 1, although the surgeon had feared it might be Grade 3. My GP said my rapid healing was 'the best example of complementary medicine' he had seen. However, there was a small lump which the surgeon was not able to remove. Soon another lump appeared and it was clear the cancer was not yet contained.
I had another operation to remove lymph nodes from under my arm. About this time I started taking the promising natural remedy CoEnzyme Q10 and the drug Tamoxifen. This had become appropriate, I was told, because my oestrogen receptors had now become positive.
All the way through the therapy I have visited my GP for regular examinations and extensive blood tests for liver function and blood chemistry, plus thyroid and urine tests. I fared these to my doctor in Mexico and it was on this basis that she decided how I should proceed with reducing the programme.
In January 1995 the two remaining lumps disappeared almost over-night. Blood tests confirmed that everything was within the normal range. Since then the situation has remained the same, with no further recurrence, and I have now been 'clear' for' 16 months.
AT FIRST we hardly dared believe the good news and to be on the safe side I had radiotherapy. For a while unpleasant side-effects were ezhaustion, burning and depression. We waited anxiously for results of a mammogram and X-rays in September 1995 but they were still clear. My surgeon gave me ten out of ten and we were all delighted.
I was almost housebound for two years, living quietly from day to day. I found the routine surprisingly reassuring. Except for angry out-bursts, I was profoundly happy being at home with the family and appreciating the smallest things walking to our nearby river in the early morning, listening to the radio, especially music, and reading art books. Prayer (my own and other peoples and meditating were very comforting.
At first it was hard to ask for help but, though a few close friends have vanished, people have been wonderful, especially family, our dedicated helper Hugh, the ever-reliable organic farm shop and a rota of faithful juice-making friends, who have all stood by me however scary things have become.
Although sceptical, tile excellent medical team have done all they can to enable me to do the therapy along with orthodox treatment and I am in regular touch with my doctor in Mexico. I have also been greatly supported by a number of complementary therapists.
For 22 months I kept up the full regime of 13 juices and five enemas a day, and then I began to reduce the treatment. I continued far longer than usual because of my earlier mistakes and the fact that I seemed to be getting worse. (Some people manage to return gently to work, with help, while still on the therapy.) Although time-consuming, I am now doing it on the side while leading a much more normal life, though I do rest every day. I have clocked up more than 10,000 juices and 4,000 enemas in nearly three years.
It has become a way of life for me now. I far prefer organic vegetables. I like the fresh juices and doing the enemas gives me time to read. I am sure the therapy has kept me healthy, optimistic and free from the cancer spreading to other parts of my body. My doctor warns me that my kind of cancer can be very aggressive and I want to do every-thing I can to prevent recurrence. Overall, I feel very well and friends say I look years younger and I see no reason to stop.
Coming back into the world was exhilarating but daunting (I felt rather like Rip Van winkle) and I was frustrated by my fluctuating energy levels. Even now I am still vulnerable and have to live within my limits but I have found creative things immensely healing - violin lessons, playing in an orchestra, painting, cooking colourful vegetable dishes and making a 'potager' of organic vegetables in the garden.
I have found it empowering taking responsibility for my life. I am truer to myself, speak out, laugh and enjoy things so much more. Last week I was overjoyed to be told by one of the consultants, who had examined me and looked at recent test results, that at present I can consider the cancer 'a thing of the past'. It has been a terrible struggle but this news makes it all worthwhile. As a friend with cancer once said: "you can begin living."
Edward Baldwin writes:
THE Gerson regime is probably the best known of the dietary alternatives, having been in use since the Thirties, mainly in the U.S., but it is only one of a large number of non conventional anti-cancer treatments, many of which (including Gerson) were mapped out in a l990 report to the U.S. Congress.
Unlike chemotherapy it aims to rebuild a healthy body rather than just attack the tumour and so can have valuable spin-offs in general health. Early research trials have not dented the optimism generated by 60 years of case histories of successful patients.
WE DECIDED to use this app roach and refuse chemotherapy because, alter 25 years of the 'war on cancer', orthodox treatment has made so few inroads into the mortality figures.
Sally also used a host of other complementary treatments, such as counselling, healing and homeopathy,as part of a strategy to support mind, body and spirit. There is no clear map of the territory, however, and each patient needs to follow what feels comfortable. Because there are so many options, we have never given up hope.
Most of the major complementary therapies have codes of conduct and can supply lists of competent practitioners. The Parliamentary Group exists to promote knowledge and policies on this subject at Westminster and holds regular meetings with visiting speakers.
There are about 120 patients in Britain at present doing the Gerson therapy for cancer and other degenerative illnesses such as arthritis and ME. The therapy is extremely demanding and expensive but a lively charity, the Debra Stappard Cancer Trust, lends out juicing machines and other equipment. The Gerson Institute is offering a six-day intensive training course for physicians in San Diego in July to make the protocol more widely available.