Why I started Macrobiotics: How cancer was my Savior

by Mike Bernatovicz, USA

For 40 years I was in the healthcare industry, the last 20 years as chief executive officer of a community hospital in Northeast Ohio. My philosophy on healthcare during those years was on disease treatment. Since my retirement in 1998 and relocation to Asheville, NC my philosophy has changed dramatically.


How did that change happen?

In the summer of I 1994 was diagnosed with prostate cancer and I had the gland surgically removed and experienced the permanent side affects of that procedure.


My PSA numbers stayed at an acceptable level for about 5 years. Eventually, however, they started to rise. They rose to a level that suggested the cancer had returned. After consulting with an urologist and radiation oncologist, I chose seven weeks of radiation treatments to try again to remove the cancer from my body, risking the temporary and permanent side affects that are part of that course of treatment.


It was also at that same time that I decided to make a major life style adjustment and went on a macrobiotic diet. My wife of 43 years has been a 25-year macrobiotic practitioner. She studied under Michio and Aveline Kushi, who brought macrobiotics to the United States.


After the radiation treatments my PSA number did return to an acceptable level but in a very short period of time it started to rise again. Although we continued the macrobiotic way of life, we started getting a little careless. My urologist was again concerned that my PSA started to rise and encouraged me to consider having hormone shots every 3-4 months for the rest of my life, which also included the side affects that go along with the shots.


With the threat of another cancer reoccurrence, I immediately returned to my macrobiotic counselor, Lino Stanchich. He suggested adjustments to my previous macrobiotic diet before my next PSA screening. For seven weeks, I followed his advice. To the surprise of my urologist my PSA level fell from 1.3 to .4! For a man that had his prostate gland surgically removed the current medical standard is to have a PSA of .4 or under. At that point I was convinced that the macrobiotic way of life was the reason for the reduction and all the efforts to eliminate my cancer from my body by surgery and radiation were not the long-term solution.

Seventy percent of the health problems in this country are lifestyle related. Since being on the macrobiotic way of life for 2 ½ years, I was able to reduce my weight by almost 50 pounds and lower my blood pressure to a level that eliminated the need for medication. My cholesterol level was reduced to around 125 and my HDL, LDL, Triglycerides and Glucose were at acceptable levels.


What was learned from this health experience is that traditional medicine only treats the symptoms of an illness. Eating healthy and a regular exercise program eliminated the cause of the illness. Diseases are not caught. We break down our natural defenses by the way we eat, drink, feel, think and live. The good life isn't so good and the Standard American Diet (SAD) or diets in other Western Society is really sad. We spend 14% of our Gross National Product on healthcare in this country but our health is ranked 24th in the world. Not a very good investment.


I was like the vast majority of people who try and solve their medical problems with expensive drugs and very expensive medical procedures like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy rather than taking our health into our own hands by eating healthily foods and exercising regularly, which has no negative side affects, except positive affects of feeling better and having a high energy level.


The macrobiotic approach to diet emphasizes whole grains, beans, fresh organic vegetables and sea vegetables. It avoids all dairy products, sugar, processed foods and meat. A very limited amount of fish is allowed if desired. Eating out is very limited and traveling requires packing your own food to eat. Eating a healthy diet is not easy and requires a lot of discipline and support. But the results are worth the effort.


The solution to most of our medical problems is right under our nose – the foods we eat and a regular exercise program. Billions of dollars have donated to health groups like the American Cancer Society. And yet cures for diseases like cancer have not been discovered and probably will never be found. It would be interesting if funds were donated to an organization that would advertise a healthy diet to counteract all the heavy advertising of drugs and unhealthy foods. If food is advertised you shouldn't buy it.


At first I wasn't very happy about having cancer. Now, however, I am grateful for my cancer and thank God constantly. \It woke me up and made me realize that I had to take my healthcare into my own hands rather than depend on the current medical system. I believe that if I had followed the macrobiotic lifestyle, like my wife wanted me to 25 years ago, I would have been a healthier person and I would not have developed prostate cancer. Also I would have had a difficult time working in the current healthcare system. Most likely, I would have made a career change.


In closing, Hippocrates stressed the importance of using dietary methods. In his book on Nutriments he declares: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food". The Hippocratic Oath, still taken by modern doctors, states, in part: "I will apply dietetic measures for the benefits of the sick according to my ability and judgment: I will keep them from harm and injustice, and will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will make a suggestion to this effect…


Thank you.


Mike Bernatovicz

Asheville, NC, USA