Barbara Smith, a health advocate

✦ We are winning against cancer

Meet Barbara Smith, Computer Roving Trainer ...

Barbara Smith, or Barb as we call her, is a very cheerful, mindful and positive person. An active character, she swims and surfs every morning, and runs two businesses. Barbara Smith runs two businesses.

A Health Wellness and Beauty Consultant with her own online store and a boutique computer agency called The Roving Trainer she is kept busy helping people with the health of their body and training people to get the best out of their technology be it their computers, phones or devices.

Additionally, Barb supports a number of business networks like the Micro Business Forum and volunteers at the Olympics Games. Arguably Barb's greatest triumph of all, however, is her recovery from Stage IV cancer and her subsequent standing as an inspiration to many who suffer from the disease.

Here's a recollection of what she went through.

Can you give me a general timeline? I seem to remember that you were diagnosed early in 2004 and then it was July when they told you you didn't need to go through chemo just yet.

Yes I was diagnosed in April 2004. And yes, about eight weeks later I was told I had a 50% decrease in the tumours and that chemo would be put aside for the moment.

What was your initial reaction when you were diagnosed? Did you right away consider trying to find an alternative to chemotherapy?

When I first found out I was very numb - it was like being in a movie looking in at it as an outsider.

I immediately considered finding ways of helping me cope with the cancer and the inevitable chemo. I believed that I would need to be in the best health to help me cope with the extreme treatment chemo is.

What is the official name for the cancer you were diagnosed with?

The cancer is called Indolent Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and there is no known cure. As you may know, you get staged when you get diagnosed with cancer so all clinicians know how to handle you. I was given Stage IV bilateral being on both sides of the abdomen and huge tumours in the neck.

The timeline of surviving was not given longer than 18 months with the distinct possibly of not seeing the Christmas of 2005 unless I started chemo immediately. However, even then there was no guarantee of success.

What made you decide to take matters into your own hands?

The fact that the prognosis was giving me such a short time made me decide that I was not going to let just one doctor be involved in my fate. I had also previously lost four of my family to cancer and /or its treatments. I had nursed my mother, who died at 55, and I was determined that her death and what I learned about the hospital system should not be in vain.

She died in 1983 and I remembered the dreadful diet the hospital gave her. I bought in my juicer and blender and fed her myself, even though the doctors thought I was mad! I genuinely believe that we could have saved her if we knew what I know now and was prepared to tough it out with all the weird and wonderful things I have done. It could not be worse than chemo.

So, taking matters into my own hands seemed logical. But at the time we did not know that I also had a broken rib. My husband Laurie took me on a work trip that he had scheduled just after I was diagnosed. The trip was to Hawaii and the doctors thought it would do me good.

Whilst Laurie was working at the conference, I went surfing and somehow my Malibu board (which are huge) came back and hit me in the ribs. I thought I was just out of shape when I kept complaining about the soreness and lack of breath. And of course everything is put down to the cancer and the menopause.

When we got back from the trip we went straight from the airport to the hospital for a bone marrow test. Unfortunately this test went horribly wrong and I bled internally and got a large haematoma on my left back hip where they had injected me. I have since learned that the doctors and nurses should have drained the blood away and packed me in ice to reduce the swelling. Instead I was sent home and ended up in a wheelchair and living upstairs for nearly a month because the pain of getting up and down the stairs was excruciating.

Of course, that coupled with a broken rib made it the hardest time of my life. However, God sends things in different packages and that was the best thing to happen as it slowed down the chemo process because I could not get out of the house easily.

So, once I could sit up, I got on the internet and the phone and my research began big time.

I decided to get a team of people around me. These people included acupuncturist, masseuse, naturopath, and an integrative medicine doctor to administer injections of Vitamin C. There is a clinic in Manly Beach in Sydney that gives Vitamin C injections. It takes about one hour, and they can put extra vitamins in the mixture like Vitamin B.

Can you give me a general rundown on your diet? I remember you telling me that the vitamin B17 played a large role in selecting to eat apricot kernels, and that you also had some sort of root shipped to you for making tea. What did you eat generally for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Yes at first I was terribly tired, probably from the shock of being diagnosed with cancer but particularly the short time frame given to me. The other symptoms I had were excessive sweats, particularly at night time. The other doctors had told me this was my menopause at work and to learn to live with it. I am so glad the glands came up in my neck otherwise I would not have gone to the doctor until it was well and truly too late.

For the diet, I was learning and reading all the time so my ideas were evolving. One thing I did do was start juicing straight away.

I would juice carrots and celery and drink that for breakfast. I would wash up the juicer and by then I was so tired I would need to have a lie down. Virtually every three hours I would juice with either carrots or apples and beetroot. In between that I would make green tea and sip on that. I would also filter water and drink as much as four litres a day to flush my system out.

When I read about B17 I bought apricots and ate them and then dried the seeds and crushed them and ate them. Some people told me that I would get cyanide poisoning, but this is merely a myth that even some doctors believe in. Some research suggests that B17 can break down the exterior part of the cell and then Vitamin C can hopefully mop up the mess – a very simplified way of explaining it.

I also