By Sari Huhtala
There are choices we make each day of our lives – to show up, to be fully present, to live each day with abandon, or not. It took Marina Silverio two diagnoses of cancer, Graves’ disease, 10 surgeries, osteoporosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, celiac and other chronic ailments to arrive at a place of surrender – that deep knowing that all is well, regardless of what happens. It is within that place of surrender all her fears of mortality lifted, and a new spirit arose, and true healing followed.
“When I surrendered, I was able to evolve more and more,” Silverio says. “I was doing some energy work, yoga and meditation and over time I evolved spiritually. I knew there was a lot that needed to be healed at an emotional level. The second time I got cancer I truly accepted my mortality. The fear of dying slipped away and I started to enjoy life more. Before, there was this underlying fear that was stressing me out more.”
“You have to come to accept death, and not fear it,” Silverio says. “I connected with a part of me that I know is never going to die – the essence of who I am will always be there – and once I connected to that everything else transitioned.”
With the veil of fear lifted, that nudging voice of inner guidance grew stronger and she found herself able to live life moment by moment and focus her attention on what she needed to do to heal.
Having been ill for much of her life, beginning with digestive issues as a young child, then polycystic ovarian syndrome as a teenager, Silverio never really knew what true health and vitality felt like, until after her second journey through cancer. In her 30s she was diagnosed with Graves’, a thyroid disease, and with osteoporosis. She was also first diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes, in her 30s.
Having been placed on birth control pills at age 16 to control hormonal issues, she questions if the cancer stemmed from long-term use of the pills and other underlying issues like inadequate nutrition, which led to digestive problems from childhood.
She followed conventional cancer treatment the first time around, and was healed, but suspects that one of the reasons the breast cancer returned in her 40s was as a result of a misdiagnosis of the size of the tumor the first time around.
The other factor was “extreme” stress balancing work in a high-stress environment and school, as she had followed an intuitive nudge to study holistic nutrition about four years ago. Into her 25th year of working in the banking industry, nine years prior to her retirement, she says the environment had become so toxic that “the stress was making me sick. It would kill me to stay there.”
“A year into school I retired from my job. I focused on school and planned to succeed in it. It was very stressful. My board exam was coming up – a three-hour written exam, a one-hour oral exam, and case studies to prepare; 300 pages of work – and about two weeks before the exam I knew the breast cancer had come back. I felt the tumor and I knew without a doubt the cancer had returned.”
She kept her focus on the exam, and graduated with honours. It was time, then, to face the cancer.
She opted to do the mastectomy, but decided not to do the recommended course of hormone therapy after the mastectomy. With a strong foundation of knowledge from studying holistic nutrition, she knew, biologically, what the hormones would do to her body, she says.
She already had the foundation to address all the nutritional aspects of healing from a disease like cancer, and in fact, even prior to studying holistic nutrition, had been guided on the path after seeing a naturopath for the first time in 2007.
“When I first went to see a naturopath it was totally new territory for me. She was recommending supplements and dietary changes. I didn’t understand the impact food had on the body. It hadn’t occurred to me that you can manifest everything in your life, that you can choose your life.”
That first visit with a naturopath had set her on a path to change her life physically, but the emotional side of her cancer would be a journey she would confront after the second diagnosis.
“The first thing when going through a lot of trauma is to live one minute at a time, even taking 10 minutes in one day where you focus on your breathing or engage in meditation, or even going for a nature walk helps. That will help you with emotional healing.”
“It will help elevate you on all levels, spiritually and emotionally,” to then allow the focus to be on what is needed to heal.
She learned to honour her body’s call to rest when she needed to rest, rather than pushing herself to go to the gym to work out, even though tired.
“The psycho-spiritual connection is so huge,” she says. “You can be eating right, but if you don’t take care of your emotional and spiritual issues you’ll never be 100 per cent.”
At one point, Silverio, at the age of 43 was consuming 25 pharmaceuticals daily to manage all of her ailments. Today, at the age of 55, she is at optimum health, takes no medications, and she’s following a path of purpose as a registered holistic nutritionist in Toronto.
“I believe very strongly you can reverse cancer cells,” Silverio says. “I’ve been sick all my life, but now I’m much better, even healthier than I was as a kid.”