The words slowly sank in—“Mrs. Nussbaum, you have cancer.” So began Elaine Nussbaum’s personal struggle with this frightening disease. Despite surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, the cancer spread to Elaine’s bones and lungs. Finally, she stopped all treatments and began to practice macrobiotics in a last-ditch effort to save her life. Slowly, steadily, she regained her health. Here, in Elaine’s own words, is her story of recovery against all odds—a dramatic and moving account that offers hope to cancer patients everywhere.
Falling in love was the real thing for Elaine and me in 1954. While the sideline gossipers and para-statisticians predicted that our young marriage in 1957 would not last, we defied their odds and established a lasting union based on the twin pillars of deep love and total commitment. Having shared most of my life with her, Elaine’s story is also my story, and her recovery is one of the highlights of my life.
Until she was eighteen, Elaine experienced few hardships as she grew up in a close family blessed with good health. This environment was probably responsible for her warm, happy, radiant, and care-free disposition. For the next nineteen years following our marriage, Elaine devoted herself to being wife and mother. She genuinely enjoyed her role and, in a natural and innate manner, played the major part in raising our four children.
In 1976, after our youngest child began school, Elaine decided to go to college to prepare herself for the next phase in our lives. Now, for the first time, she had to take on more than could easily fit into a normal day without sacrificing what she regarded as her continuing household responsibilities.
In 1979, I added a real burden when I broke the news that my employer had asked me to relocate from New Jersey to California. It was a difficult decision for all of us, but most especially for Elaine, who was torn between my desire to move the family cross-country and the children’s wishes to remain on the East Coast.
It is very likely that the stress, tension, and pressure that Elaine experienced during these years contributed to her declining health.
When Elaine was diagnosed as having cancer in 1980, her biological immune system had obviously failed, and as time would tell, her body was to experience a metastasis that would threaten her life. While standard and advanced medical procedures kept her alive for several years and reduced the intolerable pain associated with the spread of cancer in the spine, it was Elaine’s understanding of and belief in natural nutrition, combined with her strong determination to live, that finally saved her life.
Having had a scientific training, I was admittedly a skeptic early in 1983 when Elaine decided to adopt an alternative approach based on a strange diet. While I agreed to be supportive, seeing that Elaine was so determined and had not given up her fight to live, I did not share her faith that diet without medication could restore her health.
Elaine’s story, which follows, has revolutionized my beliefs, and I hope it will inspire many readers who might derive benefit from the macrobiotic approach.