Dr Rosy Daniel is an Integrated Medicine Consultant and the author of numerous books on cancer care. Between 1985 and 1999 she was Medical Director of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. She now teaches all over the world on the holistic treatment and prevention of cancer, including cancer nutrition and the mind-body connection, or ‘psycho-neuro-immunology’ (PNI). She runs her own Health Creation Clinic at the Apthorp Centre in Bath and dedicates the rest of her time to working on cancer prevention through her organisation Health Creation.
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Sparkland?
A: I live near Bath overlooking the absolutely stunning Box valley. So I have constant contact with nature all through the seasons, which is extremely important to me because it gives me a sense of beauty and a pure spiritual lift.
What’s your biggest achievement?
A: Writing the Health Creation Programme, because it’s the distillation of 20 years of work in this field and it’s something that can be done by anybody wanting to improve their health, vitality and happiness, and it really works.
What is Health Creation all about?
A: Health Creation Coaching is a new concept in pro-active health care. I’m trying to change the focus in society from the passive management of disease to the active creation of health. Basically, in the same way that you’d hire a fitness coach or a life coach, you can now hire a health coach to help you reach and maintain an optimum state of health. Through self-assessment exercises, and with the help of a mentor, you learn to recognise and change your health-damaging behaviours. Cancer is, depending on which statistics you look at, probably around 80% lifestyle created. I was shocked to find that out when I started researching and I thought, “Wow, if it’s that much in our control it has to be preventable, with enough motivational support”.
How can I start to make a change?
A: All the people I’ve worked with that have had serious cancers have said, without exception, “Why did we have to wait to get a diagnosis of our illness before making healthy lifestyle changes? Why did we have to be frightened to death to become fully alive?” They all wish that they had taken the opportunity to put their lives on an authentic footing 30 years before, when they knew something wasn’t right, when all the signals (body, mind and spirit) were saying “This is wrong, my life balance is all wrong”. So, to anybody who has that feeling in their heart that things aren’t right, get going now – whether you decide to use one of my Health Creation Coaches or any one of the other marvellous, life affirming possibilities out there. Listen to your wisdom and start to make changes. Almost all of the remarkable recoveries from cancer that I’ve witnessed happened when people re-discovered their sense of meaning and purpose in life. So take time to find out what makes you feel fully alive, whatever it might be – belly dancing, opera singing, learning to fly jets, anything that gets your juices flowing – because the mind-body connection means that when we are fully energised, fully committed, and loving our life then surprise, surprise, our bodies work best.
What’s your greatest fear?
A: That more nuclear power stations will be built. I think it’s a crime to leave a legacy of carcinogenic nuclear waste for future generations to discover buried in the earth.
What’s your favourite book?
A: I love Isabel Allende’s novels. I’ve always liked magical realism and books that open us out into other realities – it started when I was a kid and I read Enid Blyton’s “The Folk of the Faraway Tree”. But the spiritual book that I love most is called “Emmanuel’s Book” by a woman called Pat Rodegast. Emmanuel is a light-being that the author channels (or her higher self, or a figment of her imagination, whichever way you like to look at it) and ‘he’ answers her questions about living and dying and relationships. Whatever state you are in if you open this book and just read one page, you relax. For example, when she asks him about dying he says, “What can I tell you dear hearts? Dying is safe. It’s like taking off a pair of tight shoes after a hard day’s shopping, or like diving into a pool of clear, still water on a hot summer’s day”.
What’s been your greatest holiday?
A: For both good and bad reasons, it was a trip to India in 2000. I went there to meet an Indian doctor who taught me about the use of an Ayurvedic, herbal medicine for cancer called Carctol (which I’ve now been using for the last five years in my practice with some staggering success). I’d always had India on a complete pedestal and thought of it as an incredibly spiritual place, but when I got there I was horrified by the dust and the filth. There were bodies lying around in the street and you couldn’t tell if they were dead or alive. At times it felt very oppressive and very material – everybody’s hustling night and day and you’ve got people in your face 24/7. It felt quite threatening and I was shaking inside for weeks after I came back.
What’s been your greatest mistake?
A: Underestimating the amount of work my ideas take to manifest and doing too much myself instead of asking for help.
What drives you mad?
A: Cigarette smoke! It makes everything smell and taste vile and when I see someone smoking I want to walk up to them and say “What are you thinking about?! How could you be sucking that smoke into your lungs, when people half a mile down the road in the hospital are coughing up blood because they’ve got lung cancer?
What was the last cultural event you enjoyed?
A: It was the outdoor Festival of Indian Dance in Bath last summer. It felt so life affirming that those people had found a way to express their festivity and culture in all that colour and sunshine in a positive, healthy, beautiful way – as opposed to the Western way of having to go to dance in a club that’s full of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.
What gets you into trouble?
A: I tend to burn the candle at both ends. I say yes to too many things and then find that I’m not quite practising what I preach about work/life balance.
What would you say inspires you?
A: A massive source of inspiration to me is Pat Pilkington, who founded the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (along with Penny Brohn). It was through Pat that I learnt a huge amount of what I now know about the mind-body connection and also spiritual healing. To Pat, the spiritual dimension of life is as real as the table or chair in front of you and she really lives what she believes. She is totally brilliant, unconditionally loving and supportive, and dedicates herself night and day to the service of other people.
What has life taught you?
A: It sounds trite, but life is short and it’s for living! It’s for fun and for laughter and for loving. It’s really not a heavy thing at all. I grew up in the ‘no pain no gain’ school of life but I really don’t believe that now. I don’t think there are any prizes for doing life the hard way. I believe that we can transform things by our joy and by loving and having a great time. Enlightenment literally means ‘to lighten up’ – by all means let’s reach our potential and find ourselves but let’s not squash the joy out of living in the process!
Health Creation Clinic at the Althorpe Cetre, Bath: 01225 423333, call the Health Creation Helpline on 0845 009 3366 or visit www.healthcreation.co.uk
Interview by Fiona McClymont
First published issue 44 (Spring 2006)
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