“Cancer May Have Saved My Life”
He’s been a Dragons’ Den TV star, a best-selling au¬thor and has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro not once, but twice. For his business accomplishments and philanthropy, he was named Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003; in 2011, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada.
It wasn’t until his early 40s, though, that Calgary’s W. Brett Wilson learned what it meant to pursue a truly successful life. “Cancer may have saved my life,” says the native of North Battleford, Saskatchewan. “That was pretty much the last day I wore a tie.”
It was Wilson’s way of declaring that his days of living for the bottom line were over. “It was a pathetic existence,” he says of his ruthless focus, one that kept the divorced father of three too busy for family time and meaningful friendships. “And unfortunately, a not uncommon one.”
As an unapologetic non-conformist, Wilson has faced his health challenges with respect for both conventional and complementary medicine. During a first bout in 2001 with prostate cancer, though, he was met with great resistance from his U.S.-based physician when he enquired about a regime that would include supplemental vitamins and minerals.
“They said, very dismissively, ‘Let’s just set the herbs and spices aside while you’re being treated,’” he recalls. After undergoing radiation and other treatments, he nevertheless incorporated supplements, along with massage and other treatment modalities, into his post-cancer treatment.
“Western medicine to me is very reactive, it’s not proactive or anticipatory, as I think health care needs to be,” says Wilson.
When his prostate cancer returned in 2014, the world had changed. Complementary health care (or medicine) was now much more accepted by the conventional medical community, and Pure North was providing this necessary, quality care.
Wilson’s first Pure North physician put him on a ketogenic diet along with an exercise program and supplemental regime designed for his specific cancer recovery needs.
“Our goal was to help him heal from previous treatment and try to reduce the risk of reoccurrence,” says Dr. Nina Lewis-Larsson of Pure North, who’s been Wilson’s naturopathic doc¬tor for the past couple of years. She had him focus on healthy lifestyle choices, including good nutrition, regular exercise, lowered stress and lots of sleep.
“Unfortunately, most conventional oncologists aren’t trained in nutrition, and we have a lot of data showing that nutrition plays a vital role in certain types of cancers and cancer treatments,” says Dr. Lewis-Larsson, who included a supplementation program for Wilson designed to reduce oxidative stress, restore normal, healthy cell function and enhance detoxification through the liver.
She also utilized an additional tool, called RGCC, a lab test out of Greece that checks blood for circulating tumour cells. “Any cancer patient will leach some tumour cells into the blood. They’re able to pull those, isolate those, and test them for efficacy of both conventional drugs and alternative therapies,” explains Dr. Lewis-Larsson. “It’s not a perfect test by any means, but it can give us a guide on where to go.”
Wilson, who sees Dr. Lewis-Larsson every two or three months, also continues his pursuit of the “tie-less” life. In the 18 years since cancer came into his life and transformed his thinking, he has forged strong bonds with his adult kids and continues to raise millions of dollars for worthy charities.
“I don’t take for granted what I had for health 30 or 40 years ago,” says Wilson, who credits Pure North with helping him climb his health mountains. He takes 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day and believes that it has played a key role in his recovery. “I’m feeling great, but I have to stay on top of it.”