Second Chance

Living Well Magazine Summer 2015

Leonor Sorrentino is the face of both this magazine and our current appeal. Her journey from being told she would never have another child, to becoming a healthy and vibrant second-time mother, is beautiful and inspiring.

“In 2011, at the age of 31 and with a 6-month-old baby, I was diagnosed with an “aggressive” breast cancer that had spread to the axilla (underarm). No family history (of cancer) whatsoever.

I had felt a little lump almost 18 months before, but the few doctors who saw me thought it was nothing to worry about.

I was told by doctors that I had to stop breastfeeding immediately, and that I was never going to be able to have more kids. I chose to believe they were wrong. I pictured in my mind a new beautiful baby that was waiting for me to be healthy again. I also focused on my little son, who was only 6 months old and needed a strong and healthy mum to enjoy life.

After diagnosis, I was advised to have chemo and then surgery, radiotherapy and five years of hormonal therapy. I said NO. I decided to have surgery first and then think about the other options. I saw two very pessimistic doctors before deciding on a third opinion. I then met my oncologist, who was more positive about my case.

At that time, my husband and I were postgraduate students from overseas (Argentina); therefore we had no financial assistance, Medicare, CentreLink or salary.

Fortunately, I got in contact with integrative doctors at NIIM (National Institute of Integrative Medicine) who saw me from a more holistic point of view, and understood fully the importance of Mind-Body Medicine. I started IVs of Vitamin C and I was advised that before having chemo it was worth trying a genostic test, to see if the drugs were going to be effective for my own type of cancer. In short, this is a personalised study that shows chemo drugs as well as proven natural substances which could “kill” your own cancer cells. As we did not have money for my treatments, I received financial assistance from NIIM and friends  to continue with my treatments.

Simultaneously, I got in contact with The Gawler Foundation and commenced a 3 month program where I learnt the healing power of food, meditation and positive thinking (things completely new for me considering my 10-year scientific background!). I was blessed with a bursary from the Foundation to attend this program with my husband. It truly gave us the tools to heal from within.

At the public hospital I presented, with respect, my ideas of a personalised chemo, and after much discussions they agreed.  We also received the drugs for  free as we did not have Medicare.

I had surgery (lumpectomy and axillary dissection). I only had a few sessions of chemo before deciding to stop. I felt that my body was not receiving much benefit from it and my whole wellbeing was compromised. Despite much (well-meaning) pressure from my oncologist, I also declined to have radiotherapy due to the long-term side-effects I discovered in research.

I also decided to have only six months of Herceptin (a well-known treatment for aggressive types of breast cancer) as I started to read scientific medical papers where they  suggested that a shorter time (3 or 6 months of treatment instead of the conventional 12) would be as effective.

By that time, I had learnt at The Gawler Foundation to trust my intuition. Meditation and a healthy diet were doing a great job. When  I most needed it, I received the most generous gift from The Gawler Foundation: the opportunity to attend the 10-day Life & Living Cancer Retreat. It was a wonderful life-changing experience. My hopes were renewed and although it meant time without my husband and one-year-old little boy; I knew it was the last step on my recovery journey.

I had the most marvellous experience at The Gawler Foundation. Those days learning and processing everything that had happened in my life gave me the confidence I needed to be sure I WAS GOING TO HEAL!!!

It transformed our lives forever. We comprehended the power of our minds, the scientifically proven effectiveness of meditation and the pleasure of eating basic, pure, real food!!!

After finishing the program I decided to stop all toxic therapies and focused on healing from within.

We gave away all our material belongings and moved to a remote island where a friend generously hosted us. We meditated and re-charged our energies. After three months of quiet time and healing we went back to Argentina where our families filled us with love. After three more months we received Australian Permanent Residency.

We decided to move to a beautiful, small tranquil coastal town in Victoria and despite the lack of money and our backgrounds in Earth Sciences, we opened a small business; home delivery of organic and biodynamic products. I am also finishing my studies to become a food coach (nutritionist) to remind people the importance of a healthy, simple diet.

We were blessed in March this year with a beautiful healthy baby girl – she chose her name Alma in a dream. We meditate regularly, we try to simplify our lives and we are learning every day to follow our inner-wisdom.

I honestly and profoundly believe that the help from The Gawler Foundation, and the many people along my journey, were essential for my recovery. We should never underestimate the power of LOVE.

Cancer is a new challenge for our society, I believe it is teaching us  to CONNECT TO EACH OTHER,  to let the heart be our guide and  to find balance and harmony in  our everyday activities.

I hope my simple story gives hope to those in need.”

Please note – The Gawler Foundation does not provide medical treatment advice or deter people from taking up medical treatment options prescribed to them. We respect the treatment choices of all individuals, whether a lifestyle approach is the foundation of their treatment plan or complementary to their medical options.