Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Meeting Nick Parker

I was fortunate to talk to Nick Parker, the Cancer Journeyman, last year and hear about living with prostate cancer (see blog here). I loved the way he talked about his own journey and some of the steps he shared with me really helped me to think about my own situation. I was therefore delighted to hear he was coming to the Isbourne Centre in Cheltenham on 11th November to give a talk; ‘The Art and Science of Living - my journeys, strategies and discoveries.’ That was great but I also got to see him later that week when he joined a panel of ‘Cancer Thrivers’ at the Penny Brohn AGM. 

Nick kindly accepted my request to catch a bit of him on video, but in this blog I wanted to also share more about what touched me in his talks. Of course I am only scrapping the surface of Nick on the panel and the two hours he spoke for in Cheltenham (with movement breaks and questions).

Nick said he completely rejected the idea that his oncologist said he was 'just unfortunate’ to have got cancer. I agree, as listening to that meant there was little hope, yet acknowledging we play a part in our health means there is stuff we can do to help. As Chris Wark, another cancer ‘thriver’, writes; “If my body created cancer then maybe it can heal it”. Indeed cancer

is a preventable disease with some 90-95% being caused by lifestyle; it’s not genes but epigenetics (see my blog on that here). Hope is another whole topic for a blog but I loved the quote that Nick finished his Cheltenham talk with - see right.

Nick mapping dis-ease
So what causes cancer? Nick sees his 'dis-ease’ as being largely due to anxiety and stress that became chronic - anxiety being his response to an internal origin while stress being a response to an external origin.  To help find ways forward he mapped out all the possible ways why his body was in a state of dis-ease (see photo of slide). He quoted William Blake saying: “The true method of knowledge is experiment” and said if he could have said these words himself he would have done. Indeed in sharing his journey he showed how he experimented and had tried different approaches, then checked to see how well they are working.

The photo right shows his blood test results improving due to his actions; similarly he looked at his PSA test in response to various actions. One example of an ‘experiment’ was trying a

more ketogenic diet with meats only to find his PSA climb. This fits with what Jane McLelland suggests about cancers having different pathways; prostate seems to thrive more on fats so a keto diet wasn’t good (see my blog and film here). Another example was seeing how a ten day retreat helped bring down his PSA significantly. However he is also quick to say we each have to find our own way through. 

Nick also shared some of the different journeys he has embarked on - and indeed these mirror some of my own - around nutrition, lifestyle, learning how to love unconditionally and spirituality. He also talked lots about how becoming vulnerable helped him on his journey; this led to friends stepping up in beautiful ways that were previously unimaginable. Indeed experiencing love on a whole different level. It reminds me of the work of BrenĂ© Brown who has written and talked about the power of vulnerability. She said; “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” She goes onto say; “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and
Nick's protocol; shows how language is important to him
I agree with Nick that it is also
 fundamental to the healing journey of many of us. It feels like this could be yet another blog in itself but for now if you haven’t come across BrenĂ©’s work then do see her TED talk here and notes from her great book Daring Greatly here.
There is so much more to cover but one last key message came out loud and strong from Nick; ‘remission is not the goal, life is’. This so resonated with me; too often many of us are seeking the destination and not being present in the journey. This was something that travel around Asia taught me in the 80s; travel is part of the experience and relaxing into it made me appreciate so, so much more. However it is useful to remind me as it is all too easy to forget to live in the present, as we plan the
Nick at Penny Brohn
next treatment, holiday, visit or whatever.

Big thanks Nick! See more about Nick on his website and where he is next talking at: https://thecancerjourneyman.co.uk/

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