Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Charcoal, marijuana part of natural healing

Published:Sunday | September 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Gloria Malcolm-Foster
The cover of 'Back it Up' written by Gloria Malcolm-Foster.

Throughout Gloria Malcolm-Foster's fight with cancer, she said, "Doctors have avoided questions about naturopathic treatments and the use of marijuana to counteract the frustrating side effects, but I have employed the use of various herbal remedies, including guinea hen weed, old man's beard and even drink charcoal periodically."

Cancer is not an unfamiliar topic within Malcolm-Foster's family. In 2007, she bade her younger brother (who was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer - which starts in the area behind the nose - three years prior) farewell. Then one year later, her father passed away after his battle with prostate cancer.

But she was surprised when her mammogram and ultrasound results came back positive for cancer in October 2013. After all, she did routine mammograms, enjoyed a healthy diet, and avoided smoking or alcohol.

During the procedure to remove a piece of breast tissue for biopsy, nurses alarmed her as they began to panic aloud. Soon after, there was silence in the operating room. The writer cannot recall what happened, but when she woke up, she was was told by the consulting oncologist that a quadrantectomy (in which about about a quarter of the breast tissue is removed) was imperative.

"I have always found my breasts to be beautiful, even after mothering two boys, and at that very period, I began writing a poem inspired by breasts which I never completed," said Malcolm-Foster.

She aggressively pursued second opinions before taking on any treatments or agreeing to the surgery. She turned to the support of her family and doctors.

"Having observed my brother and father, as well as other acquaintances, experiences with chemotherapy, radiation treatments and extensive surgeries, I decided to follow the recommendation of a friend who was also a doctor and remove the entire left breast," said Malcolm-Foster.

On New Year's Eve 2013, Malcolm-Foster underwent the mastectomy, in addition to the removal of 16 lymph nodes. Only two were infected, but doctors thought it better to be safe than sorry. Malcolm-Foster had even pondered removing both breasts, but doctors implored that she leave one for her husband.

To cope, Gloria Malcolm-Foster quickly started the support page Cancer Jamaica on Facebook.But when she shared an image of herself without the breast, it made followers uneasy, so she removed it. The writer now utilises the page to share stories and informative references about cancer.

- S.L.