Zoe Bingley-Pullin: “How I helped my dad battle cancer”

Zoe Bingley-Pullin is best known for her work as a nutritionist, but she has another cause that she's just as passionate about.

When her dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer, Zoe knew her family was about to embark on a tough journey. Little did she know at the time that it would lead to her being an ambassador for supporting cancer research, and hopefully a cure in the future. 

Here, Zoe shares her story:

The diagnosis

"During 2002, when I was 24, we found out my dad had bladder cancer. My dad is a very stoic English person, so at first he treated the news casually and hoped it was blow over quickly. However, we began to realise that this form of cancer would not result in anything blowing over quickly. Fortunately, the cancerous cells had not perforated the outside wall of the bladder and had not metastasised.

"Dad and I have a very close relationship, he is my rock because my mum has not been well through certain periods of my life. It was incredibly scary to find out my dad had cancer and the fact life still goes on around you. Some parts of my life felt normal, but at the same time I felt like my world was falling apart; it was a very confronting experience to go through."

Treatment

"Dad had immunotherapy, which was beneficial because it targets the specific area of the cancer and therefore has fewer side effects compared to chemotherapy. I remember, dad was still very sick after his treatments. He also had intravenous vitamin C and although his diet pre-cancer was very healthy, he took healthy eating and living to the next level. Specifically, he removed red meat from his diet, increased his vegetable and fruit intake, introduced fresh juices and good quality supplements. He also started meditating and shifted towards low intensity exercise and made sure he was consistent with exercise.

"Dad also saw a Chinese therapy oncologist who prescribed Chinese herbs. Overall, we tackled the cancer very holistically and I believe the best approach is combining conventional and alternative medicine and tailoring the treatment approach to the individual.

"We also attended workshops by Ian Gawler, he taught us how to deal with cancer, articulate what cancer is, how to live with it and how to prepare for the worst but also for the best.

"This was my first experience with cancer and while incredibly scary, it also taught me a lot and challenged me in new ways. I now have a different perspective on cancer. Previously it was associated with being a death sentence, but with increased knowledge, research and resources, we are changing the way we view cancer and the outcomes for those affected by it."

Remission

"Dad was in remission after a five year battle. Every three months for the first two years, he would have a small procedure, this was then extended to every six months for the next two years and once in the final year.

"When he got the news, he was mostly relieved – I know my dad very well and I didn’t see a huge reaction, he was being realistic about it. For the rest of our family, it was the best news.

"Dad kept going for regular five year check ups and is still in remission. During this process he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, thankfully only low grade and he was able to contain it. He is now fully in remission for this form of cancer also."

Zoe and Cure Cancer

"When I was approached by Cure Cancer, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to be apart of, based on my own experience with my dad’s cancer and also the fact, Cure Cancer supports young innovative researchers.

"In retrospect, immunotherapy was a cutting-edge therapy because it caused less repercussions compared to chemotherapy. The reason my dad was able to use immunotherapy was due to advancements in research and leading technology, which I am incredibly thankful for. It therefore, means a lot to me, to be able to support an initiative aimed at helping people with cancer have access to less invasive treatments and new technology achieved through pioneering research, just like my dad was able to."

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