by Yeong Yek Yee & Khadijah Shaari


Cancer Healing Odyssey

The author, Sarto Shickel is a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree and the University of Pennsylvania with Masters in Architecture. He is a partner in Philadelphia architecture and design firm and a passionate advocate of natural healing through organic, whole foods nutrition. Sarto grew up on a dairy farm but later embraced a healthy plant-based diet about 27 years ago.

The book, Cancer Healing Odyssey, tells the story of a Korean woman Sun Hee Lee, married to Sarto, who was suddenly diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage IV, and already with malignant pleural effusion. In September 2007, Sarto Schickel’s wife, Sun Hee Lee, had a bad cough that which she hoped was bronchitis and not something more serious. She also had a bloated abdomen and some shortness of breath. At the time of diagnosis, the ovarian cancer had already spread from the abdominal cavity to the chest cavity, where she had a large fluid build-up called a malignant pleural effusion, and a partially collapsed right lung and it has spread to the liver as well. It was the shock of a lifetime.

Sun Hee is the mother of two young daughters and wanted desperately to live. Sun Hee looked at all her options and decided to have surgery, and later agreed to the Gerson therapy, to chemotherapy (she did 8 sessions of Carboplatin + Taxol) and to some macrobiotic dietary influence. In essence, she created her own unique integrative program for cancer, with her husband’s guidance, after visiting and consulting with conventional and alternative doctors and a macrobiotic counselor.

In fact, Sun Hee began an alternative nutritional and detoxification therapy the very next day after confirmation of diagnosis on 27 Sept 2007. On October 15, she had abdominal surgery to remove the primary ovarian tumour and she continued her nutritional and detoxification therapies for six weeks after surgery. She then continued an adjusted alternative nutritional program while receiving a total of 8 chemotherapy infusions over the next seven months.

Four and a half years later (the book was released in 2011 with second printing in 2012), Sun Hee is living a normal life, a rare outcome in medical history. (Stage 4 Ovarian cancer with malignant pleural effusion carries a poor prognosis). This combined integrative approach was critical in Sun Hee’s recovery. Sun Hee did not ever consider relying solely on conventional cancer care as the statistics seemed to indicate that the result would almost certainly be death.

However, after having surgery and 8 sessions of chemotherapy, Sun Hee declined her oncologist’s suggestion to undergo another 12 additional maintenance chemotherapy treatments…”to keep the cancer from re-growing.” The oncologist did admit that…”eventually the cancer would come back even if more chemo was used.”  When Sun Hee pressed what would come after the maintenance chemotherapy, the oncologist then indicated that they would keep giving chemotherapy until the body could no longer take it.

The above proposal and comments by her oncologist left Sun Hee in a state of shock and more so when he retorted to her….”Now is not the time for alternatives.” The very thought of further chemotherapy was most undaunting to her. During each of her previous 8 chemotherapy sessions; she was devastated physically and emotionally. She suffered side effects such as exhaustion, hair loss, tingling in her hands and feet, leg heaviness between ankle and knee, black and blue spots on the legs, chest pains, nausea and general heaviness in the chest region.

Sun Hee is a living example of what progress can be achieved when nutritional and detoxification therapy is combined with conventional treatments. According to Mr. Sarto, the logic of embracing an alternative and detoxification program….regardless of what essential treatments one may choose from the field of conventional medicine—one must still eat and drink—so why not eat and drink the ideal food and drink that one can to help the body’s immune system. This can help to fight the cancer—from the inside out—to achieve authentic healing.

Sarto’s final advice to all cancer patients is….”do not wait until you have been through two years of conventional-only medicine, and are on your death bed, before trying  nutritional approach or other therapies.” Most cancer patients are never told that careful nutritional change may save their life.

In addition to a very compelling personal story, the book includes medical reports, four x-rays showing the complete disappearance of the pleural effusion, a summary of CA-125 blood test results (the ovarian cancer tumor marker) as well as the recipes she used during the various phases of her recovery. The book is meant to give hope to others by showing how one woman overcame the odds through love, medicine and natural cancer therapies, including a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the organic whole foods and juices that were the backbone of her integrative nutrition.

Our concluding comments:

Sun Hee’s healing from Stage 4 ovarian cancer is very similar to Olivia Newton-John’s recovery from breast cancer. This clearly shows that one can carefully combine conventional medical treatments, such as surgery, and even some chemotherapy, with alternative dietary and detoxification methods, together with positive mind and spirit practices.

Where does all the oncologists’ theory of “clashing” comes in? A lot of bull isn’t it? We welcome your comments.

Further References:

1)    There are a lot of information on the Gerson therapy and the macrobiotic dietary system—just google them.

2)    YouTube Interview with Mr Sarto—the Cancer Healing Odyssey