Hei mahi māraThe pursuit of happiness

Jul 6, 2013

A beginner’s guide to growing organic vegetables
nā Tremane Barr

I now look at the garden as a means to help provide optimum nutrition for my body so that my immune system can function effectively.

Photographs Tremane Barr


Wonder vegetable silverbeet.

It has been around 12 months since I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Matariki has reminded me of a very vivid dream I had a few months before the diagnosis. In the dream I was told that the stars in the night sky are there to remind us that we come from the light and that when we die, we return to the light. It was rather startling and baffling to me at the time, but its meaning has since become very clear.

Despite being told I might only have months to live, I am still very much alive and doing well. Looking back on what I have learned in this last year on my personal path of recovery, there are similarities between maintaining a healthy garden and a healthy body. For plants to flourish in a garden, work has to go into creating a healthy environment with the correct pH, compost, macronutrients (NPK: nitrogen, phosphoros and potassium) and micronutrients (magnesium, calcium, boron, selenium, etc.), as well as shelter and water. However, the real miracle of life in any garden comes from within the plants themselves. As gardeners we provide the best environment we can to allow the inherent life within the plants to unfold in their own natural way. As the old tohunga knew, the intent in the energy that the gardener brings to work in the garden also can have a positive or negative impact on the plants. I have found that this is applicable to my own personal recovery and I have come to realise that neither conventional nor alternative medical systems can cure my body of cancer. I believe the miracle of any cure will come from my body’s own immune system, and my task is to provide the best possible environment for my immune system to operate at its best. A century ago, one in 100 people got cancer. By 1950 it was one in 50 and today it is one in three. The cancer epidemic is going to get much worse with survival rates from conventional medical treatment having only marginally improved overall, despite the billions of dollars spent on research in the past 50 years. And so I have realised that I am not primarily responsible for creating the cancer in my body, just as there is no way that I can mindfully wish the cancer away with hopeful thinking.

The good news is that by taking a positive focus on my life, relationships, diet, appropriate herbal remedies and supplements, healthy exercise (gardening and yoga), meditation, counseling and actually discussing my thoughts and emotions with my wife (the hardest of the lot) that this has, so far, allowed my immune system to stop the cancer in its tracks and allow me to live a relatively normal, albeit restricted, life. This approach was reinforced at the Holistic Cancer Conference in Auckland in early March. It emphasised that the medical system’s “war on cancer” is a losing battle, and we need to search for a deeper and more holistic understanding of why cancer occurs and how it can be healed. The latest science of epigenetics (the study of changes in gene expression) shows that genes do not play any significant role in creating cancer in the human body. It is both external (environmental and social) and internal (food and consciousness) forces which primarily determine the functioning of the genes and the impact these have on the immune system. The need to positively change one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors and relationships with one’s family, friends (and oneself) to let go of any negative energy holding back one’s immune system cannot be overestimated. I have found counselling and meditation a great help in weeding out my negativity.


By conventional medical theory I should in all likelihood be dead by now or not far off it, and yet my wonderful miracle of a life goes on. As such I am very happy I turned down the doctor’s offer to experiment on me with new pharmaceuticals with horrific side effects, in the hope it would extend my life by three to four months!

While I have learned that just eating organic food is clearly not enough to avoid or recover from cancer, it is a necessary first step and foundation for providing healthy food that to give my immune system the nutrition it needs to function optimally. One thought that did occur to me early on was that I needed to look at what my grandparents used to grow, particularly the ones who lived into old age. I remembered their fondness for silver beet. In fact, nearly half their vegetable garden usually consisted of silver beet plants. So I have ensured that I have planted enough silver beet for my green juices and evening meals. I now look at the garden as a means to help provide optimum nutrition for my body so that my immune system can function effectively. As such, my tunnel house now has silver beet, parsley and spinach in it instead of the usual winter lettuce.

Winter is a good time to plant out new fruit varieties, and this season I have the task of relocating our two apple and three feijoa trees from the front garden. They need to be moved out of the way of our new house (yes, EQC does make some good things happen sometimes). As they are established trees, we will dig a trench around each one a month before we move them, to allow the roots to consolidate for when they are finally dug up and moved to their new position. I will also plant some new blueberry bushes, as blueberries have become a delicious part of my diet. They really have been an immune-boosting super food for me.

The pursuit of happiness in the garden relies upon me finding a balance within myself that allows me to work intuitively with the garden and its needs, so that it can provide life-sustaining nutritious food for my body. In this way I have ensured that rather than being a burdensome chore, gardening has once again become a delight. Anita Moorjani learned the lesson of a holistic journey to health the hard way. After she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she tried both conventional and alternative Indian methods to help cure herself. In 1996 she was so gravely ill in hospital that doctors told her family she would soon be dead. At this time, she had a near-death experience and realised that if she let go of her fears then all would be well. She came back and her body healed of its own accord. The moral of the story – let go of your fears, enjoy life, and be happy.

Anita Moorjani’s Story


Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven

Life Between Lives Hypnotherapy