What I did to HEAL cancer

My healing story featured in the NZ journal of Natural Medicine Magazine in July 2021


Here’s the article…

“Sorry, but the cancer tumour has spread from your large intestine to the small intestine, ovary, stomach muscle and many surrounding lymph nodes. We expect you probably have around a 15% chance of surviving 5 years, but we may be able to extend your chances by 50% by having our treatments.”

These are not the words one wants to hear from a specialist at the age of 45.

I got this diagnosis in 2013. For the previous three months, I had been feeling increasingly exhausted but had put that down to the intrepid traveling style my husband and I were experiencing. We were self-navigating our way through Vietnam /Lao & Cambodia on motorbikes and it was challenging. With increasing & nagging pain and bouts of constipation, a sore lower back, sore muscles I was feeling increasingly lethargic, we made the decision to return back to NZ. A CT scan revealed the awful truth. We quickly consulted with an Integrative GP who was willing to help me, before considering surgery, but she also recommended I have the conventional treatments to give myself the best chances of surviving. As I walked out of the clinic my world felt shattered, in my heart of hearts I was too bloody scared to go down the chemotherapy path, my body weight had plummeted to 45kg and I just felt that the toxicity from the drugs would surely be enough to finish me off. 

It’s a real mind game to process any diagnosis, like anyone diagnosed with a serious illness I was immediately thrown into shock, taking me several weeks to process my reality and reaching a place of acceptance. 

I can remember for many years prior having a very real FEAR of getting cancer myself since I had received the news that my father had taken his life.  He had been diagnosed with colon cancer, after 6 months of chemotherapy, the cancer was back, and told he may have another 3-6 months to live if he’s lucky. I believe he wanted to end his life on his own terms,  and didn’t want to put our family through the gradual demise that we often see with late-stage cancer patients. 

I eventually elected to have a fairly grueling 9-hour surgery three months later, and was still very reluctant to choose the conventional treatment path that my father was talked into doing largely against his own will, but convinced it may be life-extending.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful Naturopathic friend who recommended I see a Naturopath she had trained with in Auckland who worked with cancer patients. The naturopath also worked alongside many other natural health practitioners as a team and between them, they came up with a plan for a totally holistic approach towards healing for me.

It was such a huge relief, I felt certain that this was the path that sat right, I was able to “let go” and trust the process. Each week I would travel from Tauranga to Auckland to have various tests to identify underlying toxins, pathogens, nutrient deficiencies, emotional traumas, and other energy blockages.  The treatment plan included having Intravenous ozone treatments, herbs, and supplements, emotional healing, eliminating sugar, dairy, and wheat, focusing on eating a mainly plant-based organic diet with fresh fish & organic chicken, and exploring a newfound spiritual path of meditation for healing.  This provided the foundation for my recovery and ongoing survival to this day. 

Once this 8-week intensive plan came to an end I set myself up at home with a far-infrared sauna, an ozone machine to continue to keep my oxygen saturation levels high, protected myself and my home from EMF’s and continued with other practitioners that resonated with me to deepen my healing.

I knew I had become very toxic from our travels, having had several bouts of vomiting (thinking it was food poisoning) my gut health needed serious attention. The microbiome in my gut had become badly disrupted before we even headed away overseas from a bacterial gut infection. We had no UV filter system on our rainwater supply, so we suspected that was contributing to my health decline, however, we didn’t connect this to the potential tumour that would of been already growing according to the Naturopath. He suspected that the tumour may well have started from physical trauma I had experienced 10 years prior.

I had had emergency surgery while I was working & traveling through a remote part of Western Australia. Reacting badly to the prescribed pain-relieving medication after a workplace injury I was admitted to hospital with severe dehydration. With no improvement in my condition, and my health stats deteriorating rapidly, and no specialists on-site, they were really concerned. I was feeling incredibly sick and could have easily just slipped away. They flew a surgeon up to Kununurra Hospital from Melbourne to perform emergency surgery to find absolutely nothing wrong. Little did I know or did they know that I had contracted a nasty hospital bug. Unfortunately for me that bug left me with a raging infection in my spine which was brewing away until eventually a blood test was done 3 months later back in NZ after a consultation with a bone specialist. The infection had eaten away a discing spine leaving me unable to stand for any length of time. 

The subsequent colon cancer tumour that had evolved was right in the location of my large intestine where the surgeon in Australia had opened me up and removed a perfectly healthy appendix 10 years prior. 

One thing was, in fact, crystal clear to me since day one of the cancer diagnosis – Chemo and radiation didn’t sit right for me, it made perfect sense to actually try and heal my already toxic body instead of using the recommended chemo drugs.

I felt that the physical, mental & emotional stress I had endured had led me to having a very low vital life force essentially creating a perfect environment for a tumor to grow out of control. The surgery and hospital bug had already created internal chaos, scar tissue, pain, and an environment that meant that having children was not achievable. The emotional stress was deep and at the time was not something I ever considered to be a contributing factor to my physical reality.

People think I was brave to cross the border and receive alternative medicine to save my life, and yet I think I was wise to decline the treatments as I believe they would be severely detrimental to my already weakened state. 

I realise many choices are made quickly because there is a sense of urgency instilled by the surgeons/oncologists for us to act quickly. However, I believe we may save ourselves more harm if we take some time to research healthy ways to optimise our healing first, regardless of what treatment options sit right with us. We are part of our success, and deep down I knew I could do this my way, and I wanted to choose what was best for my body and not be thrown into FEAR by what the doctors told me I SHOULD do!

You don’t have to listen to the odds and the statistics. Cancer is a label, a phrase, not a way of life or a death sentence. We can all learn to manage & live with the disease and eventually get back into a place of balance and a healthy vital life force by feeding our soul, spirit, and body on a daily basis.

A follow-up MRI & PET scan several months after surgery revealed an enlarged lymph node showing active cancer cells. The surgeon told me that I was so stupid for not doing their treatments and that cancer had come back. As a consequence, they wanted to start immediate chemo followed by surgery to remove more lymph nodes, as he proceeded to tell me that cancer cells will now spread to all my other organs and that whatever I was doing was not working. I subsequently declined his treatment plan and continued to trust in the healing path I was taking.

At the two-year post-diagnosis mark I was declared NED – No evidence of disease.

During this healing journey, I read a wonderful book by Dr. Kelly Turner. A groundbreaking and inspiring book that provides the ten keys that can lead to a spontaneous remission from cancer – even after conventional medicine has failed many.

Early in her career, Kelly Turner, Ph.D., a researcher, lecturer, and counselor in Integrative Oncology, was shocked to discover that no one was studying episodes of radical remission when people recover against all odds without the help of conventional medicine, or after conventional medicine has failed. 

She was so fascinated by this kind of remission that she spent many months traveling through 10 countries to learn what factors that people experiencing this phenomenon encountered. Her evidence presents ten factors that she believes can help even terminal patients turn their lives around. They are:

Radically changing your diet

Deepening your spiritual connection

Increasing positive emotions

Releasing suppressed emotions

Taking herbs and vitamins

Using intuition to help inform health decisions

Taking control of one’s health

Having strong reasons to live

Receiving social support


Every chapter of Radical Remission related to my own healing journey back to wellness. Her updated book “Radical HOPE” features several stories from cancer survivors in NZ including a wee part of my own spiritual aspect of the healing journey.

The insight that the possibilities for healing are more abundant than we had previously known, gives people evidence-based ways to defy the prognosis of late-stage or terminal cancer.

Most oncologists typically ignore the root cause of cancer formation, often just focusing on the removal of a tumour and not the reasons behind cell mutation and tumour growth. These root causes should be the focus of every cancer treatment. Toxicities, exposure to EMFs, constant conflicts, resentment, guilt, shame, and fear (known as stress) deficiencies, for example can lead to the suppression of a person’s immune system and the growth of a cancerous tumour. 

Cancer and the healing transformation have thankfully given me a greater understanding of who I am, a purpose, and acceptance of my imperfections, and gratitude for the opportunity to work with people who want to find greater happiness. I had the opportunity to go to New York and train with Dr. Turner as a certified teacher to facilitate her inspirational cancer healing workshops in NZ. 

The healing journey has given me a deeply embedded passion to help people who are also open to making change and to help them realise that we can’t rely on the conventional system to fully heal. It takes effort, self-motivation, inspiration, and motivation to heal from a holistic perspective, and the standard level of health care is severely failing us. 

I have yet to meet a cancer patient who does not feel burdened by some unresolved conflict/trauma that still lingers in their subconscious mind. 

I said to myself when I was told I only had a limited lifespan: “Every day in every way I am getting better and better” & “Expect a miracle!” Courageous my survival maybe, but it has only come about through bloody-minded self-discipline, determination and a will to live, and a determination to help others facing the limitations of our medical system.

We have so much more control over our health & well-being than most people realise…at any age. We just have to listen to our intuition and action our inner voice and follow what feels right for each of us. 

Justine Laidlaw – The Natural Bird www.thenaturalbird.co.nz

Justine is currently working alongside integrative practitioners at the Godfrey Medical Clinic in Tauranga. Qualified as functional medicine cancer coach and thermography technician (breast screening) and facilitating group coaching and healing workshops online. 

Justine Laidlaw
About me

I’m Justine Laidlaw, Integrative & Holistic Cancer Coach based in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. I love life, make the most of opportunities and I am certainly not afraid of change. I coach to help change lives as mine was changed drastically in 2013. I run inspiring workshops as a certified “Radical Remission” Teacher from Dr Kelly’s Turners incredible research on cancer patients who have survived a terminal diagnosis. Join me as I continue to promote a healthy lifestyle, balanced nutrition, spiritual knowledge and a safe community to share ideas and positive thoughts and where I inspire others towards optimising their wellness journey of healing and living fully.

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