Tiny beats killer cancerJohn “Tiny” Harrison and his wife Natalie in the VIP tent at the 2009 Williams Industries International at Bushy Park. (Picture by Clifton Henry)
By CLIFTON HENRY | Sun, September 26, 2010 - 12:05 AM
The word Cancer drives more fear into the hearts of people diagnosed with the dreaded disease than if confronted by a 500-pound grizzly bear in their living room.
Without even grasping the seriousness – or lack of – people automatically view the diagnosis as a death sentence. But there are those sufferers who don’t just up and capitulate.
They are the fighters: like Edmund “Tiny” Harrison.
Even now Prime Minister David Thompson battles valiantly with his pancreatic cancer – amid concerns by some that with such a disease there is little or no hope, “Tiny” Harrison disagrees with the naysayers.
And Harrison has two pieces of advice for the Prime Minister: “First, make the cancer you are diagnosed with your friend. If you get scared of it and think negatively, it will feed on you.
“Secondly, surround yourself with positive people.”
Harrison speaks with authority.
Over 14 years ago, the car racing enthusiast and son of the late entrepreneur Edmund Harrison, was diagnosed with one of the most deadly forms of cancer: of the colon. This is his story.
“It was while at work one morning at Harriett Enterprises Ltd that I went to the bathroom; and, as was customary, looked back. For years every time I checked things were normal, but on this occasion there was blood.
“I said to myself that it was probably a one-off thing. However, the next morning, the same thing happened . . . . I soon found myself going to the bathroom frequently. In addition to the blood, there was something like mucus.
“I went to my doctor who treated me for haemorrhoids. After the first couple of tubes the bleeding stopped; so I was relieved that he was right.”
But about a month later, the bleeding started again; and Harrison’s doctor referred him to another: Dr Charlie Edwards. Edwards had a colonoscopy and a biopsy done. The results revealed a large cancerous tumour in Harrison’s colon.
“I left, went back to my office, sat down and thought for a little while before going upstairs and saying to my father, ‘Daddy, I have cancer’.”
That threw Harrison’s father into a serious bout of depression; but “Tiny” – as he was affectionately called – insisted that he wanted no negative thoughts from his dad or anyone else.
“After telling my brothers Nicholas and Peter about the diagnosis, I formulated my first plan of attack: that was a phone call to Herbert Cheeseman [proponent of alternative medicine]. That was when the war between me and the cancer really started.”
Harrison was placed on a strict holistic regime.
“I am speaking about taking enemas twice or three times a day, inserting aloes into my rectum, taking daily liver and kidney flushes, taking 10 000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, freshly squeezed carrot juice, to name a few of the things . . . . My entire life had now changed.
“It’s on occasions like this you need people around you with positive attitudes; not persons crying, or bawling like if I was going to die.”
After sticking to the rigorous regime he was placed under by Cheeseman, Harrison was advised by his doctor to see surgeon Professor E.R. “Mickey” Waldron about removing the tumour.
“A barium enema later revealed a pretty large tumour, which Professor Waldron was a bit sceptical about performing the surgery on. All this time I was still sticking to my tight holistic regime – with the help and prayers of my wife and family.”
Harrison’s next visit to Waldron would present a pleasant surprise – and happiness. The tumour had shrunk; it could now be easily taken out. But after the removal it was not all easy sailing for “Tiny”.
“Because of my size the surgeon thought it best to leave the cut open for a while . . . a cut approximately 18 inches long. It had looked like a butcher had launched a cutlass lash across the leg of a pig.
“Eventually when Professor Waldron was comfortable with the inner healing process, he came to my bedside one morning and said, ‘John, I want you to go to the sea, as often as possible . . . ’.
“I looked at him like he was mad. ‘Sea baths, skipper?’, I asked him.”
Harrison’s first visit to the sea at Brighton’s Beach would be an experience: one he would never forget.
“On my entry into the water, I felt this thing like a rope come around my waist and start to tighten the wound. As the water started to clear, hundreds of little fish were working assiduously cleaning my wound.
“And I just held up my hands and looked down at the water and watched God’s healing process at work through these little fish. If I did not believe in God or His works, I would have had to believe then.
“What was even more amazing was that as the wound got better from the sea baths, the number of fish diminished.”
Harrison said when he returned to the hospital, “the wonderful nurses who had attended to me were amazed when they saw that all the little pieces of fat had vanished”.
The man who whipped colon cancer is impressed with how Barbadians have opened their hearts and offered up their prayers for Prime Minister Thompson. He believes that positive attitude, along with the love of family and positive surroundings, will see the country’s leader through.
“Never say to yourself that you are dying,” he warns all cancer patients.
“I used to talk to my cancer and tell it. ‘Listen buddy, I don’t mind your dropping in for a drink or a short visit, but let me give you advice: I don’t want you taking up permanent residence around here. You need to get out and move on, and let me and my family get on with our lives’.”
And so said, so done!
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