By Lovely A. Carillo
DAVAO CITY, April 6 (PNA) — What would you do if you have just earned yourself the right to retire from government service after more or less 60 years of waking up early to punch your time card, only to be told that you are dying of cancer? Cry foul!
However, this was not exactly the reaction of former government employee Rose Palacio when told that she had dermoid cyst, which, according to research, is almost never cancerous. Rose was, however, diagnosed with cancer. And to make matters worse, she had not only one, but two dermoid cysts and she needs to undergo an operation before it contaminates her whole body.
Palacio used to work with the Philippine Information Agency office in Davao. You have probably seen or read one of her many news reports which usually land in the local papers, or read by the local radio stations.
“I was asked by my doctor to get a second opinion but the second opinion confirmed her findings and the second doctor also recommended that I be operated on the soonest possible time if I still wanted to live,” she said. Of course, she was barely alive then, suffering from long bouts of stomach pain and her inability to urinate for several days.
She was hospitalized when she was no longer able to bear the pain of cancer seeping through her entire body, but the anxiety coming from the fear of where to get money for her mounting hospital bills made her decide to beg her doctor to release her.
With sheer will power giving her the strength to pull herself up literally, she met their family doctor who incidentally, was also diagnosed with cancer and was even given only six months to live. Rose jokingly asked her doctor “buhay ka pa pala doc?” Unknown to her, the doctor’s answer would give her a second lease on life.
“He said if I don’t get the operation then I was as good as dead but realizing that I had decided not to get the operation for financial and other reasons, he asked me to buy all the guyabano I can find in Bankerohan Public Market,” she said. “Sabi n’ya Rose, bilhin mo lahat ng guyabano na makita mo at inumin mo oras-oras (Rose you buy all the guyabano you can find and drink it every hour).”
Led by faith, and knowing that it was guyabano which healed her doctor friend (he has actually been declared totally healed now), she took his advice and drank guyabano shake every hour, even setting her alarm till night time so she would not miss her hourly guyabano juice. That was October 9, 2009 when she could barely lift herself up from the bed.
“Sus, kapait talaga kasi dapat hinog na guyabano para matamis. Eh, mahirap maghanap ng hinog so kahit hilaw ginawa ko ng shake at iniinom ko without sugar kasi (It’s really bitter in taste. Supposed to be the ripe one because it is sweet, but it’s hard to find one this time. Though it is still raw I have to shake and drink without sugar because sugar has chemicals which would lessen the potency of the guyabano,” she said. In less than three days, she was able to urinate and had regular bowel movement.
The pain also lessened and while I had but pains regularly before, it was reduced as the days went on, she said.
Two weeks ago, her colleagues in the media could not believe it when they saw Rose covering one of the press conferences in the city, looking healthier and as if nothing happened. When asked what she did to get rid of her malady, she would gladly utter one word — guyabano.
Rose had an ultrasound last February and during the first week of March and her doctor had a hard time looking for the two dermoid cysts — one which her doctor called a monster because it was really huge, was nowhere in sight. The other cyst was however seen through the ultrasound but with a much lesser size.
The healing powers of Guyabano
Dabawenyos and other Filipinos know the fruit by the name Guyabano but it is also called soursop, paw paw in Brazil or Graviola. This is a remarkable herbal plant because all its parts, including the leaves, fruits, roots, seeds and barks can be used to treat illnesses.
The guyabano leaf is used as a tea for the treatment of heart ailments. It is used to heal anti-inflammatory conditions in the Peruvian Andes while it is used as a cure for liver problems in the Brazilian Amazon. The barks and roots can be used to lower blood pressure, sedative or antispasmodic.
Don’t laugh now, but even the crushed seeds of the guyabano can be used to kill worms, head lice and parasites. This may be the reason why most Dabawenyos would recommend the juice of guyabano as a dewormer for kids. It is also recommended for lactating mothers since it can increase milk production.
Research shows that a host of other illnesses can be cured using guyabano, including arthritis and rheumatism, fever, diarrhea, cough, asthma, heart conditions and even difficult childbirth.
Researchers have confirmed that guyabano contains Annonaceous acetogenins or chemicals with very strong anti-tumorous properties. The beauty of these chemicals is that while these are toxic to cells with cancer, it does not affect the healthy cells. One of the reasons why cancer patients like Rose refuse to undergo chemotherapy is because of its adverse effects on healthy cells. With guyabano, only the cancerous cells are affected.
While there are lots of cancer patients like Rose who have already benefitted from the anti-cancer properties of guyabano, there seems to be not enough publicity on its powers. A large US pharmaceutical company has allegedly done research on guyabano and found out about the anti-cancer properties of the fruit. However, the research was shelved because they could not produce a novel chemical which would take it away from the category of a naturally-occurring plant chemical, and which would lead to a patent and definitely billions of dollars in income for the company.
An unreleased report by the US National Cancer Institute in 1976 has included guyabano or Graviola in the list of plants that were found to be effective in killing malignant cancer cells. Research shows that a lot of clinical studies have been made on the anti-cancer properties of guyabano but it has yet to be tested on cancer patients.
The experience of Rose, and her doctor, and the many other unpublished and undocumented stories of Dabawenyos who have benefitted from the healing powers of Guyabano should be an eye opener to medical researchers and to the government to continue with their research on this herbal fruit.
Until then, Rose and the other patients who vouch for the efficacy of guyabano in treating specific illnesses have to scour the city anew for the freshest and the sweetest guyabano they could find, not only to refresh them during the summer heat but also to give them a new lease on life.