Galina beat ovarian cancer

Galina beat ovarian cancer

In 2004, Galina Dean walked up to Chris Woollams who was signing books, before a radio broadcast. "I have terminal ovarian cancer, grade 4, stage 4 and the Doctors have told me there is nothing more they can do for me". Chris built a personal plan for her and she is still alive today in 2020. 

"I beat cancer" says Galina "with Chris’ help. In fact Chris beat cancer - I just went along with the grand plan, in my usual determined way!"

If good looks and glamour kept tumours at bay Galina Dean would never have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But the silent killer does not discriminate and in September 2002, the pretty property dealer from St Petersburg learned that, at just 38 and recently married to Englishman John, she had grade 4 cancer.

Most women with this disease are 55 plus, and Galina was told that only one in three or four survive five years. Ever since she passed that five year watershed, icon has hoped that Galina would share her remarkable story and her Russian salad of complementary and integrative treatments - with our readers.

But Galina was understandably cautious (and a tiny bit superstitious) about speaking out. Finally, however, she tells her tough but ultimately triumphant tale, In the hope she says, that it will give strength and, above all, knowledge to others. 



Galina Dean’s cancer journey began as a diagnostic disaster: Home from a summer holiday in France, she was ill enough to visit the GP three times before being referred for an ultrasound at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Initially her doctor thought she had food poisoning and prescribed pain killers. Even at the ultrasound she was told there was no cause for concern. But the chronic constipation Galina had suffered for a few years had become acute agony: "The pain I experienced with every bowel movement was unimaginable. By this time I was unable to eat and my stomach was distended as if I was pregnant. Back at the GP practice I was given another referral this time, to my shock and anger, for the VD clinic. Finally my husband and I insisted on a blood test and John was actually driving me back to hospital as an emergency when the GP phoned to say the blood test results were very bad. It transpired that my score on the CA125 blood test which is a tumour marker was 2700. The normal range is 0-35. By now I hadn’t eaten at all for several days, had a high fever and difficulty breathing.

I was kept in hospital over the weekend to have an MRI scan and fluid drained from my abdomen. My gynaecological surgeon, Mr J Richard Smith, then told me that I had tumours in my ovary, my omentum (a sheet of fatty tissue between the intestine and the stomach). You can imagine how unreal this felt to John and me. Wed only found each other two years before by chance on my first visit as a tourist to London - and we couldn’t believe what was happening.  That was my first question to Mr Smith, Am I dying? My second was, How long do I have?  He explained that I was not terminal but added frankly that only one in three or four women in my situation survive beyond five years. Despite his devastating news, Mr Smith radiated professional confidence. I liked his kind eyes and felt at once that I could trust him to help me.

Knowledge is everything

Up until this point, I had always thought of myself as fit and healthy. Growing up in Russia Id been a child gymnast and competed on the national running team as a teenager. Id had an ovarian cyst when I was 18, and the affected ovary was also removed. So probably I had some predisposition, and if Id known then what I know now I wouldn’t have been satisfied with the regular ultrasound checks and examinations I had afterwards.  I thought I was having a healthy enough life, but I should have taken more care. Why did I get ill? Some people say that moving countries can be a factor, because the water, food and environment are all different and maybe your body chemistry doesn’t adjust. Stress could also be a factor, though I wouldn’t say I was unduly stressed just busy with my work like anyone else.  Even if Id been informed I wouldn’t have been expecting cancer, but I would at least have been aware and taken preventive supplements. Someone should have told me about the CA125 tumour marker test. Its not 100 per cent accurate but in my case it was absolutely right. It would have been easy to take the test in Russia; in England you either have the free NHS or very expensive private medicine. In Russia theres also a very affordable, in-between level of private practice where, if you are worried, you can walk in 24/7 and pay somewhere between 20 and 50 for a blood test.  I think thats a very good system which would save the NHS a lot, as most people wouldn’t mind paying a reasonable sum for peace of mind.

Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer because the symptoms are very subtle, and so easily missed. For example, we all have back pain, the occasional stomach spasm and nausea these are normal women’s problems. You cant go round thinking Oh, I have ovarian cancer with every twinge. No one can live like that. But if you notice pain that doesn’t ease, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. My advice is to live your life, but also to be informed and to take some action. Knowledge is everything, I now believe.

Building a complementary therapy package

Once diagnosed, Galina was scheduled for eight sessions of chemotherapy with hysterectomy surgery in the middle. At the time this was, of course, a nightmare. Looking back after eleven years, I can’t say I’m happy I had cancer, but Im not at all angry because, as you will read, there has been so much benefit in the long run, to my physical and emotional health. 

As soon as I knew how ill I was, I started to read and research. A friend gave me icon magazine which led me to Chris Woollams and, first off, his book Everything You Need to Know to Beat Cancer. Of all that I read, this book was eye-opening. Even with my imperfect English, everything Chris said was crystal clear. Yes, I could see that the body has a chemistry and that though surgery and chemotherapy may stop the symptoms, they won’t deal with the reason you got ill. The cancer is coming from the fact that your body chemistry isn’t working properly, so you need to change it.  It made complete sense for Chris to write that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables might have been enough 100 years ago, but not now, when the soil is so depleted of vitamins and minerals. Lacking nutrients from the earth, you need to supplement yourself. So I took and still take fish oils, anti-oxidants, digestive enzymes, probiotics every day, selenium and zinc, plus D3 the sunshine vitamin and indole 3 carbinol, which helps the body get rid of bad oestrogens.

So from the start, I did everything that Chris recommended. Some people call him the cancer ’guru’ and it’s easy to see why. Even so, the first chemo (with Taxol and Carboplatin) was the worst as I was exhausted and very weak from all this illness. Each time it got easier, and the CA125 tests showed that it was working for me. Three weeks after my first treatment it was down to 900, after the second down to 250 and just before my operation it was down to 32 almost normal in other words.  After my surgery, Mr Smith told me that whilst I was in theatre his view of my chances had gone from pessimistic to optimistic. He found only dying or dead cancer cells  and pathology tests confirmed this. So for me, the chemo combined with Chris regime, was obviously working. But even before the conventional treatment was over, I had started adding complementary therapies. I was lucky that Mr Smith had a very open-minded approach. ’Try whatever you feel is right for you’, he said.

I realised that I had to be disciplined. If my cancer had been growing for perhaps three to five years, then nothing I tried was going to work in one week. It would take time for my body chemistry to return to health.  So for a while I was juicing with wheatgrass, carrot, apple, ginger, sometimes beetroot, three times a day. I did coffee enemas for six months. Looking back, this seems a bit extreme, but I gave myself the challenge of trying everything that seemed sensible, no matter what.  If it didn’t work then I had at least left no stone unturned, so I would just have to say C’est la vie.

Friday Night Rules

To relieve the depression that usually goes with such serious illness, the hospital prescribed me medication. But I never took it. The mind can be a powerful tool, and I felt that if you are down, you have to deal with it, because otherwise you will send negative thoughts to your body. When, as a girl, I competed as a gymnast and a runner I always wanted to win and I applied the same competitive spirit to my illness. Now I felt I was at war with the cancer, and I think that competitive spirit helped - of course it did. Another significant fact was that I didn’t want to let my husband down by dying. What was he going to do without me? He was going to find another woman, I thought, and I couldn’t let that happen! Listen I said to him. You are not going to get rid of me! I will be staying around  to pester you!  I had a powerful determination to survive because I could see how many people would be upset if I did not.  I’m someone who hates to worry others. I only told a couple of friends I had cancer. I would have hated all the rest to come round, and say how sorry they were, or even if they said nothing, to be looking at me with pity. I’m too strong for that!  My parents didn’t know then and they still don’t know what I’ve been through now. At 72 and far away what could they do but worry?  John was always like a rock, always understanding, at every meeting with the doctors, so I was never alone with the illness.

It was tough for both of us, trying to lead some sort of normal life whilst I was ill. When they said I would lose my long blonde hair, I was very upset. But I shaved it off and bought a wig from a very good shop called Trendco in Notting Hill. I called the wig my cat and it was so convincing that even my own mother didn’t guess, when she came to stay. We were actually able to go skiing in Austria, whilst I was having chemo, but sometimes I was so tired and weak that I couldn’t go out in the evenings, which John really wanted. Sometimes I pushed myself, because he needed that normality of being out and about. We then created the Friday Rules whatever happens, even if I felt like just going to bed,  that was the one night we would always go out. This works well for me now, because eleven years on I can still say Friday Rules! I’m not cooking! Were going out! 

Would the outcome have been different had I not been able to afford complementary treatments? We just don’t know, but all my conventional treatment was on the NHS.  Some of the complementary therapy was very expensive, and I don’t think the most costly necessarily gives the best results. I did so much that its hard to identify which or what really helped. I don’t think it was any one thing, but a combination, and the main point was that everything I tried taught me something. Having money helps, but I cant stress too strongly that knowledge is everything.

I suppose the real turning point was meeting Chris Woollams. The Orthodox treatment had finished and I was on my own. But he helped. He e mailed, saw me, phone me. And when I called him, he’d always be there for me.

The complementary approaches continue

After my first dose of chemo I was so weak that John had literally to carry me to car and then into the Ki Energy Institute (now in Stephenson’s Way London NW1). Friends had recommended this non-invasive channelling of energy and it made a remarkable difference, as after this, the first of several treatments we went straight for a walk in the park. Between chemo doses six and seven that I went to the Paracelsus Klinik for natural healing in Switzerland. I could only stay two weeks which probably wasnt long enough, but they made an individual programme for me and every day I had something done, like a vitamin blood infusion or oxygen infusion.  They believe very strongly in mistletoe (Iscador) treatment so they gave me ampules and syringes to take home and I injected these myself for a couple of months. I was told to get rid of my toxic mercury load. So back home I had my fillings changed, which I didn’t find was any big deal, but it has to be done by an expert.

After chemo I was tested for allergies at Biotech Health in Petersfield, Hants. They found my system so bad that I could only digest vegetables. Over time, as Anne Smitten (who has since retired)  tested me again, I was able to add first fish, then chicken, but the one thing they always say is not to take either  meat or milk which are hard to digest if you can digest these, theres a high probability that the problem has gone away. I didn’t drink any alcohol for two and a half years, and was also told at that time that coffee, meat, milk and all sugar products were out. I think Annes nutritional care was possibly the wisest money I spent on my road to recovery . At the Dove Clinic, in London, W1 where I went once I was in remission, I thought Dr Kenyon a genius. He prescribed C-Statin made from bindweed which inhibits the growth of new blood vessels to tumours. I brought all my supplements with me, and he also tested me to see which were working really well for me. He was very happy that I was taking a combination of five mushrooms (three Russian, two Japanese shitake) after seeing Irina Filipova, a Professor of Fungotherapy on a visit to Russia. Apparently this is a very old proven remedy that was clearly working for me, though everyone is different, so you cant give one piece of advice for all. I am happy that I took the orthodox route of chemo and surgery because, in my particular case, I dont think recovery was possible without it.

For a couple of years after chemotherapy, the radiologist looking after me would say, not exactly that the cancer would return, but that it normally does come back. I understand that doctors have to protect themselves legally, but its clear from talking to other patients that this dark talk depresses them and makes them think they will die. You really have not to let this attitude get to you: either you believe it, or you decide to believe what Chris Woollams says in his books and how you can help yourself beat cancer. Even nine years on, it does, of course, give me pause for thought when I have a little niggle or ache. But it is just a passing thoughtyou cant let the idea magnify. As a survivor, Mr Smith invited me to the launch of a book he published last year and, expecting to meet others like me, I asked him where they all were. He said simply You are the only one.  Im telling my story so that there can hopefully be more women who make it.

Sometimes people put their lives on hold when they have cancer, unsure if they will be alive the following year. Physically and mentally it is hard to pursue your career at the same speed as normal. I did keep my business ticking over but for a couple of years it didn’t develop. Once I felt stronger, I had the energy and drive to build something new. Some people feel they want to have a child: my way of creating something beautiful and nice was to open Strato, the first, 600 square metre, Italian furniture showroom in St Petersburg. 

Besides my supplements, which I still take all the time, I have occasional acupuncture courses. I have a massage every week because I think its good for the lymph flow and detoxing. I eat carefully mainly fish, salads and vegetables. I exercise in a way that I enjoy, going to the gym and playing tennis. Every couple of months, I give myself a detox programme no alcohol, no bread, no sugar extra supplements and juicing which invariably clears the mind along with the body. Its very rare these days for me to have a bad mood. I remember, when I was ill, saying to John, if I’m ever out of pain, I will be so happy, nothing in my life will ever upset me again. Occasionally, after all these years, I forget and do get upset about something small. And then I remind myself: Listen! You are here! Don’t take it for granted! Forget all this rubbish because you are lucky to be here. I have to be happy and enjoy life every day."

6 years from meeting Chris she went back to a UK doctor with back pain and explained her fears. "It’s not the return of cancer - but you do know it will come back one day!" How negative can you be? 

In contrast a visit to a doctor in France bought the opposite reaction. "How long is it since your last orthodox treatment? Forget it. The cancer’s gone."

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