Seedling and soil serves as a metaphor for cancer
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The Seed and the Soil

by Maggie Jones

I read somewhere that everyone has cancer in them at any given time. Cells are constantly mutating, dividing, and things go wrong. However, in most healthy human bodies the immune system can quickly eliminate these rogue cells before they get a foothold and do any real damage. 

In some bodies, though, these cancer cells find an environment that is perfectly suited for their growth. They thrive in an acidic, low oxygen environment – one just like you’d find in a body suffering from inflammation due to chronic stress, environmental toxins, or a poor diet. 

In fertile, cancer-friendly soil the seeds of cancer will flourish and blossom into tumors that become too powerful for the immune system to eradicate.

Conventional cancer treatments can debulk these tumors but leave the immune system weakened and do nothing to treat the soil that nurtured cancer in the first place.

Any successful healing of advanced cancer must be three-tiered: nipping those buds, strengthening the immune system, and treating the soil.

Nip those buds

Embrace conventional medicine in the way that’s right for you. Modern advances like targeted therapies, thermal therapy, and immunotherapy, if you’re lucky. The slash and burn of surgery, radiation and chemo if needed.

Strengthen the immune system

I do this through fasting and autophagy; immune-supporting supplements; an anti-inflammatory diet of whole, healing foods; and stress-reduction through exercise and mindfulness meditation.

Treat the soil

This may be the most important for those whose cancer goes into remission. Once the seeds of cancer have been planted they’re always there and the plant will grow back if the soil is fertile for cancer’s return. My cancer is incurable but I’ve still benefited more than I can ever express by tending to the soil on all the different levels that can feed cancer.


  • Way of eating and not eating
    Obviously, this is the big one for me. Eating foods that are healing, medicinal, and nourishing to my cells. Eschewing anything that will inflame my body or make it any more welcoming to cancer. Making use of intentional periods of fasting to regenerate the body. Depriving cancer of the glucose it needs to grow while arming my healthy cells with ketones.
  • Sleep
    Do what needs to be done to get the healing sleep you need. Observe good sleep hygiene like no phones in bed, blue light filters after sunset, etc.
  • Exercise
    I was only able to start incorporating exercise recently. The first few months after my diagnosis I was on oxygen, thrilled to be able to walk up a flight of stairs. Regular walking of increasing intensity was a great start for me and many consider rebounding the gold standard of cancer fitness.
  • Poor man’s conventional therapies
    I believe that thermal and hyperbaric oxygen therapy would help nip my buds but they’re not traditional in my country and I can’t afford to travel to Japan or Thailand regularly. Instead, I do what I can with what I have taking advantage of the sauna in my building and at various health clubs when we travel, picking up HBOT treatments when I can, and so on.
  • Stress reduction
    Stress reduction straddles the physical and mental as chronic stress has a massive impact on our bodies’ health by increasing inflammation and reducing immune function. I personally believe my stress levels and coping mechanisms had more to do with my getting cancer in my 30s than any other factor. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) gave me the tools to be aware of it.

Mental/ Emotional

  • Exercise
    Listed again here for its stress-lowering benefits.
  • Meditation
    It’s not just for monks anymore. The benefits have been scientifically documented and some large companies are even introducing mindfulness meditation to the office to reap those benefits. Try it if you haven’t.
  • Mindfulness yoga
    I get a tremendous amount of value from my periodic meditation practice and I wish I did it more. Somehow I always find time for my daily mindfulness yoga, though. It’s just what works for me.
  • The one that’s right for you
    Talk therapy, TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises), Accupuncture, Reiki, Emotional Release Therapy, Body Talk, Aura Cleansers, Chakra Alignment, Crystals, kicking out your adult kid, changing your job, whatever. Listen to yourself, try everything with an openness to learn, and find what’s right.


Every aspect of the soil is unique to you but the needs of the spirit are most personal of all and perhaps the most in need of tending. Cancer puts us dizzyingly close to our mortality and its important we’re at peace with our life, our death, our sickness, our healing, our god, our universe, and ourselves.

Prioritize yourself

Everything I describe above is work and much of it takes time. The first response most people have to propositions of exercise, meditation, and preparing meals at home is “I just don’t have the time.”

In fact, if you have cancer, you may have less time than you think. In my case, it was 6-8 months. If having time is important to you, make space in your schedule for the most important thing there is: experiencing yourself and enjoying every moment.

Make tending your soil a priority whether you have cancer or not.

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1 comment

Rebecca Densmore January 13, 2020 - 1:54 am

Thank you for sharing your journey!

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