Red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, a sailor’s warning: to Gersen or not to Gersen, that is the question!

This morning i watched the sun  rise – watched  dawn arrive. It was wonderful shades of pink so i thought  of the old wise saying,  ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning a sailor’s warning’  – that is  – beautiful but maybe not that propitious in weather terms. Still one must not take everything around oneself as a metaphor!

I was awake early at 5.30am which has not happened for a time.  I am full of conflicting thoughts – or probably better expressed  thoughts about  contradictions. I have been trying to find a Gersen therapist in Scotland – to see if i can follow the idea of renewing cells and attacking/starving cancer cells through radical diet and juicing  and taking enzymes  and giving myself coffee enemas.  I know a Cuban musician  Leo Gamboa who followed a strict Gersen diet when he found out he had  non-Hodgkins lymphoma – with help from his wife  he did it  for over 3 years after he was only given 6 months to live and offered a cancer cocktail that was still only being tested (maybe the one i am on as this was a while back in the mid 2000+s). Leo was in his late 20s/ early 30s  then and he is cured and very well now – I saw him and spoke to him last week as he was singing in my friend Toby Gough’s Soy de Cuba show at the Assembly Rooms on the Mound.

Anyway last week courtesy of Leo’s Gersen therapist Stephen Gamble, who lives in Melton Mowbray in England,   I found a medical doctor  who is training in Gersen therapy at the moment who literally lives round the corner here in Edinburgh! However,  rather frustratingly he says he has been  ill himself, already has two patients and is not taking on anyone else as he is only in training. Despite this  he is in email and phone  contact and generously says he is prepared to give as much help and advice he can. I had to write him a bio/health history so he can address himself to possibilities for me  last night and found myself saying that i was fighting hard against my illness and doing the ‘carpe diem’ stuff but also found i was feeling like ‘a rabbit caught in the headlights of death’ – albeit the headlights are i hope way away still. Yet as i watched the sunrise today i thought it could be any day that i get a blockage again and i am not sure if i am willing it to happen by even thinking of it! Even if it looks a lovely day it is no guarantee nothing untoward might not happen.  Viz the red sky metaphor. It was a lovely day when my cancer was diagnosed.

My nephew Mark has come for a few days from Wales: he has had chemotherapy and radiotherapy this year for Hodgkins Lymphoma and is waiting for a  full body scan  later this  month to confirm it has been overcome and disappeared. He looks strong and well and is feeling good. He will be forty in October. I don’t even like to say that I am praying all is well with him – see superstition comes in somehow for me  even into prayer as one just wishes to assume all IS well for him.

Mark’s  visit has happily coincided with that of my daughter Rachel, who is here with my grandson Kabe, who is eighteen months old and developing a beautiful strong personality. He picks things up instantly and only needs to be shown once maybe twice how things work like pressing buttons to get sounds on toys etc and much more. We have had a great day on the beach at North Berwick making sandcastles and cars in sand (like my father did for us), paddling in the sea and  eating delicious fresh lobster and fish at the Lobster Shack in the port. Kabe eyed up the children’s carousel and insisted on going on it with my daughter Fran. Mark and I also went to  Jupiter Artland yesterday morning: I have been there every week and more in recent weks and it is such a joy –  all that astonishing sculpture in woodland.

Mark who is a very experienced  professional chef (among other things like also partly  trained as an architect)  has cooked delicious meals for us and also dug up all my potatoes in my raised bed and back graden: it is quite a crop of earlies and pinks and some other ‘late’ huge ones! Despite waterlogged clayey ground at back  after all the rain he harvested  two cardboard boxes full. Yipee. We ate some of them with fresh trout and they were delicious.

I have spent the last few wekks doing lovely things with family and friends, which actually i am used to doing:  i think i have lead an rather indulgent hedonsitic  life in terms of going places and always popping out to visit museums, art galleries and going on walks  etc (I love popping up Blackford Hill which is right in front of my house really). Still now I am wondering should i be spending more time searching for alternative cancer  treatments and resting more and meditating more (I am hardly doing anything like that at moment)? My priority seems to be spending quality time with family and friends.  Have i always distracted myself from essentials into work and seeing people and going out? I am always wanting answers to questions I pose even if i know that is part of an endless, yet satisfying  process.

Last week i had  a session with Andrew at the Maggie Centre. He is a manager there and a skilled therapist. You can talk about anything to him – how one is living, how one will die, how one’s relationships are.   That is so helpful and he is enormousuy empathetic. In one way he accepts the doctors assessment – how could be not-  he has no crystal ball. In  another he encorages one to explore things. However  like Dr Uttley,  the GP at my practice who diagnosed my colon cancer – he is wary of Gersen therapy and of any attempt at coffee enemas (which help release the toxins/ bile duct held in the liver and send messages all round the body through cleansing).  Stephen Gamble has already told me that they are not advised/ not possible if one has lost more than 18 inches of colon which i probably have.  Still i harbour the idea now that i might have lost less and might be able to try them and the Gersen  diet. I am simply not ready to die and don’t even feel ill save i am not working and my mind is totally caught up in the fact that i am!  It’s all so contradictory or at least my discipline about it is rather loose at the moment –  like practising and far from perfect – i have been told cancer likes sugars yet i am still occasionally eating sugars (honey in my oatmeal, rhubarb crumble made with rhubarb from the garden,  the odd bit of chocolate or fudge…) one has that thought – well if i am going anyway might as well eat good food – which is so silly! Stilll i am hating the pharmaceutical chemotherapy and what it might be doing to my body if it is not killing the cancer or even shrinking it. One can put upo with anything if it is doing the job but one feels  annoyed if it is not. I am only on capcetebine at moment and finished those pills on Saturday morning so have a week off. the main side-effects is light neuropathy (numbness in hands and feet ) and my face, chine  and neck have several red patches of dry skin which are rather  itchy. I am using alo vera gel to calm them.

‘Keep on keeping on’ is my motto and has been through the loneliest of times. One thing i realise  is that it is quite  hard to do this alone.  Always easier when people are around. Makes one wish one had a partner to just be there to chat to and to make the odd cup of tea, meal etc and to do things with. Still no use wishing that now  as it has not been my lot in life to find someone else to live with after my marriage/divorce – to fall in love again –  save with Filiberto my Cuban man who was already married, so that had to stop… (OK eventually, no pride in that but he was very loving and fun and we did lots of great things together until it all got too much for him and he became  madly irritaitn as time went on)   But i realise that i may need some one later on in this illness to help me out: if i have another blockage which i could at any time – 3 days – 3 weeks- 3 months – 3 years (! here’s hoping).  The only possibilty when i blockage occurs will be a minor op (they say no more major ops possible) to form a bag to by-pass the bwoel so i can eat and then defcacte into bag. The growths will continue to grow until  eventually … adíos!

Thankfully that will not be today!  Rachel, Kabe, Mark and I are going  to visit  the newly re-furbished, very busy Museum of Scotland  Then Mark will take the train back to Wales  and i will go to the Edinburgh Book Festival  which i directed between 1996-7 to hear Francisco Goldman, author of the amazing Long Night of the White Chickens. He is  a wirter i adore and he came and read at the  EBF  I directed.  He is a friend of John Lee Anderson who wrote the key biography of Che Guevara who also came to that Festival.  Frank and I danced salsa then at the opening party when i got Salsa Celtica to play.  He is reading from his new book which is about how his young wife died after an accident on the beach in Mexico. I read an extract in the Guardian Saturday magazine a week ago.  It is very vivid and quite brilliantly written. It is about life and death…

Viva la vida! Long live life!


About Jan Fairley

I am an experienced and passionate ethnomusicologist working as an arts and music journalist and broadcaster, writer and editor as well as researcher, lecturer, radio presenter and producer. I have a breadth of organising experience at home and abroad. I am a fluent Spanish speaker. I love travelling and have worked abroad (notably Chile 1971-3 and again in 1994) and researched in Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Finland.
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3 Responses to Red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, a sailor’s warning: to Gersen or not to Gersen, that is the question!

  1. Karl Chapman says:

    Some threads run through our lives don’t they. I was in France with my family in July and the boys wanted to create something in, or out of, the sands. Not sandcastles, they said that was for toddlers (liars) and anyway, we didn’t have any buckets, just spades. So I built them a sand speed boat. As I was digging I became aware that what I was making was a carbon copy of a boat my dad had made for us when we were boys. I told him about it when we got back and he was quite touched by this. I thought about whether my sons will build the same boat for their children. All that parenting and I pass on a paternal line hand me down design for a boat in the sand which washes away when the sea comes in but stays in the mind for thousands of tides. There is something comforting in that. See you Monday!

    • Jan Fairley says:

      hi Karl – what a great comment – yes it’s a kind of imprinting maybe and i think it is helped by photographs as somewhere in my cellar in a tin i have the small black and white photos taken when we were on the beach with my brother and sister and cousins. my dad used to sculpt the front – he made speedboats too sometimes – and we collected shells, stones and feathers as the speedometer and temperature guage and key slot. My father was a huge motor car fan. He had a motorcycle first, then he managed to buy a car (NNC 596) – a green Ford Prefect I think – helped surely by the Gas Board for whom he worked, as he had no savings, and my grandparents were quite poor living in an old rented house in Birkenhead near Cammell Laird Shipyard where my granddad worked. My brother and i went to Myreton Motor Museum recently (and a week later i took my grandson and daughter – Kabe loved the tiny cars as much as the big ones!) – have you ever been? i bet you have as i know you used to live near there- we loved it and found motorbikes and cars like the ones my dad had owned and my brother too – a Hillman Imp!! We enjoyed sitting in the back of the Queen’s Daimler! the green swallow car was my favourite…

    • Jan Fairley says:

      yes my dad made us speedboats and cars too! – we decorated them with shells and stones and feathers for speedometer and temperature guage and key slot – i still have tiny black and white photos of the time – my uncle andrew had a great camera – we went to the beach a lot with my cousins Pam, Peter and Rory who now all live in Australia. There’s a kind if imprinting i guess from all that special time we had as children. When my brother Rod came recently i took him to Myreton Motor Museum which i had never been too and we loved identifying the motor cycle and then cars my father had had (first one Ford Perfect NNC 596) which he must have got through working for the Gas Board – maybe they lent him the money as he ahd no savings i do not think nor did my grandparents have any money – my granddad, althought his family came from Edinburgh, was a shipyard worker for Cammell Laird in Birkenhead

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