‘Get Up Daddy’: Bhava Ram’s Journey of Recovery from Stage 4 Cancer
By Gregg A. Masters, MPH
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 at 1:30PM Pacific Time, Bhava Ram fka Brad Willis will appear on ‘This Week in Oncology‘ in the Blogtalk Radio Network. The story from ‘alpha male’ war correspondent to despondent, terminal cancer patient to thriving holistic author, yoga evangelist and integrative medicine advocate is nothing short of astonishing on many levels. Meanwhile, below is a preview of his story as told at TEDx San Diego. In a follow-up post detailing the just concluded @UCSD Center of Integrative Medicine will feature Bhava as well as several other ‘documented miraculous cancer remission case studies.
More about Bhava:
Yoga literally saved my life. Literally. Without its deepest practices I would not be alive today. Here is how it happened:
I was a war correspondent for NBC News, reaching heights in my career that I never dreamed possible. There was the front lines of the Persian Gulf War. I was inside Afghanistan with the mujahideen during the Soviet occupation, covering apartheid in South Africa, drug wars South America, then I was put in charge of covering all of Asia.
But for seven years, From Afghanistan to Hong Kong, I had a secret: I was in incredible pain. It happened on a vacation. I fell from a ledge during a tropical storm and cracked my fifth lumbar vertebra. Pain-killers became my best friends, along with an extra glass of wine or two every night. Then, in 1993, the crack became a break. I hit the ground screaming and was soon medivacked from Asia to San Diego for spinal fusion-laminectomy surgery.The surgery failed. I was declared permanently disabled. My identity was instantly gone and I was confined to a body brace, unable to sit up for a meal. I was pickled on even stronger meds, gained a ton of weight and fell into an abyss.
Despite a marriage in which I confess it was difficult for my wife to be with me, my first and only child, Morgan, was born. As I withdrew into depression, anger and fear, he became my only touchstone to the world. Six months later, I was diagnosed with Stage Four oropharangeal cancer metastasized throughout my lymphatic system. It was from exposure to depleted uranium used on American weapons in the Gulf War. I was told I had two years to live… at best. Morphine was added to my arsenal of drugs. I often couldn’t speak. I ballooned up to 225 pounds, became even darker, and hit the bottom of the abyss.
As my son turned two, he finally became aware that his father was dying. One morning he came to me as I was lying flat on my back and said with tears, “Get up, Daddy!” Those three little words cracked something open in my heart. But how to get up? Days went by. The mantra Get Up Daddy flooded my mind. Finally, at my family’s urging, I decided to check into a hospital, detox off all the meds and alcohol, and die with dignity, showing my son that his daddy did all he could to pull it together before leaving the world.
After so many years of heavy medications, detox was the darkest night of the soul. Heavy withdrawals. Tremors. Hot and cold flashes. Uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea. Complete insanity. When I finally crawled out of my hospital room, the pain was worse, my head was pounding, and I had no idea what to do next. That’s when the hospital invited me to join a small experimental program blending ancient eastern healing practices with modern, western holistic modalities.
One month into it, I began therapeutic Yoga. I don’t know why, but somehow I knew the very first day that Yoga was my path to healing. The cynical journalist still inside of me scoffed. My Soul said otherwise, and fortunately my Soul prevailed. Six weeks later, the clinic closed because insurance companies refused to reimburse patient costs. I went home and turned an office in my house into my “Himalayan Cave.” I practiced 12-14 hours every day. Yoga postures. Pranayama. Visualization. Meditation. Veganism. Fasting. Ancient yogic purifications. It worked. Two years later I was pain free and cancer free. I took eighty pounds off my body and began to climb rocks as a symbol of clawing my way out of the abyss.
I’m sharing this because I know each and every one of us has a great inner capacity to overcome incredible obstacles and challenges in our lives, to heal and grow and manifest our fullest potential. This is the gift of Yoga – the sacred science of how to heal, grow, live our truth, manifest our fullest potential and merge with the Divine.
Bhava Ram is an author, healer and teacher in San Diego and the author of a new memoir: Warrior Pose, How Yoga Literally Saved My Life.
“Warrior Pose is Indiana Jones merged with Gautama Buddha, a miraculous affirmation of the power of self-healing, a war story, a love story, and a spiritual journey of epic proportion…” Dr. Emmett Miller, Pioneer of Mind-Body Medicine.