Four years after her full recovery from non hodgkins lymphoma, Caryn Dunning’s oncologist greeted her with: “You are one of the lucky 10% of people who hasn’t had a recurrence of cancer.”
– Betty L Khoo-Kingsley catches up with Caryn in 2020, now a grandma, Caryn was one of the first to order Betty’s new book on-line, ‘Grow Young & Healthy, Naturally’1.
Caryn was only 33 when she was stricken. When the divorcee and mum-of-two heard the diagnosis, the shock and fear speeded up the cancer. Within weeks, pretty and slim Caryn had lost a couple of kilos and looked gaunt and pale.
So, why hadn’t her cancer recurred?
In fact, five years later, Caryn, 38, gave Oncologist X – another surprise! She was pregnant with her third child (Oncologist X admitted that if Caryn had not stopped the chemo, after two sessions, the drug would have killed her stem cells and rendered her infertile).
But Oncologist X was not at all happy that she was an expectant mum. He told Caryn and her new partner Rod, “You do know that Cancer is incurable, don’t you?” The obstetrician seemed just as concerned. “They made me do so many extra tests…all came back negative.”
Fast forward to year 2020…and this new baby, Amber, is now 16 and a year 10 student at Mararra Christian College (NT Australia). Caryn, now 54, is a happy and healthy Grandma of 3.
Oncologist X had grimly given Caryn (un-asked), a maximum 10-year survival prediction …so why hasn’t Caryn’s cancer recurred?
Caryn’s partner at the time, Michael had just lost his wife to breast cancer and he had researched all natural cures and realized the vital role of organic fresh produce, meditation etc.
I had come to know Caryn because she was coming every week to help me clean the Starseed Sanctuary home I shared with my (second) husband, Richard Kingsley.
Richard and I had left Singapore for our new home in 1994 and by 1997
I had already set up the Bio-dynamic Network NT; and was helping Mrs Lila Notley with the Darwin Holistic Health Centre, the Organic Producers’ network and the Organic Community Garden, all of which Lila had started, soon after she had healed her cancer, naturally.
Lila’s most famous lines: “Doctor, I am NOT sick, I only have Cancer, I have more energy than most teenagers. What we need to do is to get farmers to grow organic food so we don’t eat toxic chemicals that feed cancer.”
We had heard of vet Dr Ian Gawler2 (bone cancer amputee) who founded, The Gawler Foundation with their 10-day cancer retreats in Yarra Valley, outside Melbourne. Though chemotherapy was free (under the Australian health system), Caryn chose to pay and we also helped raise some funds (A$ 2,000/- all inclusive) and got Caryn going…
Caryn recalls: “ I had first to settle my girls with my parents in Adelaide…so we flew south but my extreme anxieties caused me to become so ill, I ended up in Adelaide hospital. There I had to be given oxygen because my stomach was so distended by the swelling in my lymph glands, it was pressing on my lungs and I had difficulty breathing.”
“But the hospital was really good. They knew I had booked into the Gawler program and they rushed me by ambulance to catch my plane to Melbourne.”
Caryn arrived “just in time to run into the room for the first lecture.”
She credits the 10 days she spent there as saving her life. “I wouldn’t be here today, if not for the Gawler Foundation program, it’s as simple as that.”
This residential program is a ‘Last Resort’ for many patients, most far older than 33 year-old Caryn and all badly damaged by the chemo &/or radiotherapy and drugs they had been on.
“Cheery Ian Gawler himself and his wonderful team gave me a life direction and confidence to manage the situation.” But it was no picnic though the setting in the lovely valley was idyllic and, for exercise, Caryn chose walks instead of yoga or gigong.
It was full on. The (about 40) participants were put through activity-packed days that began at 7 am and ended around 9 pm. The food and juices they were given were based on Dr Max Gerson’s famous vegan Gerson diet, all the produce was fresh and grown organically, some even bio-dynamically.
An atmosphere of Peace, Beauty, Love and Caring….
There, in an atmosphere of peace, beauty, love and caring, everyone seemed to be filled with enough energy to get through each day of learning, sharing, de-stressing and self discovery.
Caryn happily recalls, “There was even much laughter and social chatter during meal times. Always fresh flowers on the table, and that, together with the rainbow colours of the buffet spread, gave such a visual and taste treat.” (Note: no salt, only dried seaweed).
There was daily meditation, inspirational and informative lectures and also therapy sessions (in small groups), where they learned to recognize and work through the issues, the traumas, that may have triggered their cancer.
“We visualized and drew our cancer…faced up to our fears and released them.”
It was during such therapy that Caryn realized that it was her toxic relationship with her physically abusive husband that led to the extreme stress that brought on her cancer. But as many participants were older and had been diagnosed as ‘terminal,’ they were also taught to overcome a natural fear of death and to gain serenity, whatever the outcome.
Caryn also realized that what she had thought was a ‘normal diet’ ‘plenty of takeaways, lots of meat ; biscuits, cake, coffee and spirits – was, instead, a sickness-causing diet.
After 10 days, Caryn flew home, her cheeks rosy and ready to begin a new life. Micheal started an organic food garden in their 5-acre rural home and they called it ‘Caryn’s Elemental Garden’.
Now, meditating, gardening – working on improving her mental attitude –
“I used to be the worrying type” – and sticking strictly to the diet, Caryn grew steadily in health and strength. Like all Australian mothers, Caryn had no house help and, besides looking after two little girls, she also had a menagerie of chickens, ducks, dogs, cat and pet birds…and five acres!
(I have been to Caryn’s Elemental Garden many times…I recall Caryn taking home one of my sick hens – it was being bullied by the others. In her home, the cuddling by her girls not only got the hen well again but ‘Silver’ as they named her, outlived all hens I had – I was selling organic eggs from my ‘happy hens’)
On her return to Darwin, Caryn also joined the Darwin Holistic Health Centre to help those who were opting for alternative ways of healing. Then, the Cancer Society contacted Caryn who was bubbling to share her story – “but they were not the least bit interested.”
“They wanted me to attend sessions to learn how to wear wigs (because toxic chemo makes all one’s hair fall out) and to apply makeup to conceal bruises. When I told them, ‘I have my full head of hair (long & lustrous) and no bruises,’ they promptly lost interest in me.”
A revitalized Caryn started to work weekends at her friends’ (Ursula & Greenie’s) organic market stall, and she also began work in after-school care at her daughter’s school.
THE YEARS PASSED: Michael and Caryn went their separate ways, but remained good friends. Caryn’s interest in children’s wellbeing and education became a passion and she began studying for a Diploma in Children’s services at Darwin University. It was a very full life.
Caryn participated fully in her daughters’ after-school activities and took them to Waldorf-Steiner inspired Nature camps; she also took an active part in our biodynamic network, hosting field days for gardening and school groups, no charge, at her ‘Elemental Garden.’
She and her girls also went on holidays with her family, however these were by no means stress-free years. Her ex continued to give her a rough time and, on more than one occasion, she had to go to court to prove she was a healthy, capable and good mother to retain custody.
All of this would have affected the ‘old’ Caryn, but the ‘new’ Caryn bore the harassment with calm and steely resolve. Her health remained good. Then, a new love came into her life. Sturdy, reliable Rod ‘Rocket’ and they decided to have a child…and, on her six-monthly checkups, Caryn broke this ‘good news’ to Oncologist X…But this news alarmed him.
April 9, 2006… Betty had a chat-up phone-chat with Caryn (Singapore-Darwin):
“ I am fine…enjoying my time with 18 month-old Amber, still breast-feeding;
studies and work on hold. Rod is very supportive and we are getting ready to put some seeds into the garden…the girls are now nearly teenagers, in school in Adelaide and living with their father.”
Her ex had taken Caryn to court again and this time, because she didn’t have a lawyer, she lost custody.” But Caryn was not stressed out, she said, “they are happy in school there and coming up to be with us in two weeks time.”
Sometime in 2012…Betty revisited Darwin and had a sleep-over with Caryn, Rod and little Amber in their cosy cottage in Howard Springs.
Surprise! August 2020…Betty published Grow Young & Healthy Naturally and promoted the E-book with selz.com. One of the first to buy it was
Caryn is now a 54 year-old grandma of 3 (still slim and pretty), and all her family are up in Darwin-rural; “Jade and Floyd have two kids, Zoe and Rick have just had a baby son while Amber is now in year 10 at Mararra Christian College and, works Saturdays at Greenies. Rod does jackeroo work in the Territory but returns home every fortnight.”
“I’ve nearly completed 10 years in the Steiner school and we always join (Anthroposophist & Bd-bush foods gardener Di Lucas’s many excursions out bush and seasonal camps, celebrating all the aboriginal festivals….
*1 To get Grow Young & Healthy Naturally E-book, bettylkhookingsley.selz.com
* 2 Dr Ian Gawler – author of numerous books, founder, The Gawler Foundation.
Nov 2020..Caryn posts in her Facebook: