This story was originally published at our predecessor site, BCCT.


In 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 colorectal cancer. I had a 7 cm tumor in my rectum.

The prognosis for the conventional treatment of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery was 89%, but something inside me said not to do chemo. During a retreat at Commonweal, I was fortunate to be able to speak with Michael Lerner in person. He told me not to rule out conventional treatment since the prognosis was so high for the type of cancer I had and to “go only at the pace of guidance.” These words have accompanied me on my entire cancer healing journey. 

After two years of trying a variety of alternativein cancer care, alternative practices or therapies such as diets or acupuncture are used instead of conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiotherapy and complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocialtherapy, and acupuncture therapies, I had shrunk the tumor to five cm, but it was moving lower in my rectum which was interfering with my bowel movements. The bowel obstruction wasn’t allowing me to sleep at night. I was losing weight every week. Guidance now told me to look into conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy treatments. 

In 2017, I had the tumor surgically removed. My surgeon said that he had never seen a cancer tumor in such a healthy and clean body. They removed 17 lymph nodes which all showed no signs of cancer. My surgeon told me to keep doing whatever I was doing.


In November of 2019, a CT scan revealed two new tumors in the abdominal cavity. I was diagnosed with metastaticthe development of secondary malignant growths (tumors) at a separate location from a primary site of cancer; metastasis is an indication of advanced cancer colorectal cancer, an incurable disease with a median lifespan of six months to two years. The oncologist wanted me to start palliativerelieving pain or suffering without dealing with the cause of the condition chemotherapy immediately. Palliative chemo is not curative; it is used to make end of life easier.

Once again, my gut-sense told me not to do chemo. I began working with a few energy healers, and after a bad sickness that had me bedridden for seven days, Michael Lerner connected me with Dr. Cynthia Li, a specialist in functional medicine and intuitive medicine. Cynthia immediately changed my regime using her intuition. I would tell her what supplements I was taking, and she would meditate for a few seconds and reply, “Increase your vitamin D to 6000 IU. Lower your vitamin C to once every other day.” 

Cynthia intuited that the sickness I was experiencing was not viral, but bacterial. She suggested I do a round of antibiotics. “I haven’t taken antibiotics in over 20 years,“ I replied. “They completely destroy the gut flora.”

“I know, but I really think they will help in this case, and we can re-establish your gut flora after you complete the cycle of antibiotics,” Cynthia said.

For some reason, I trusted this woman more than I did my stubborn prejudice against antibiotics. Within less than a day of taking antibiotics, I was back on my feet and feeling strong. After I finished the cycle, I took the probioticsliving microorganisms (bacteria and some yeasts) that, when consumed in sufficient numbers, can provide health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition; benefits may include supporting gut and immune health and contributing to the maintenance of a balanced gut microbiota. Examples of probiotic foods are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi. that Cynthia recommended and my guts felt great. 

I have been working with Dr. Li for seven months now, and she has been invaluable in guiding me through the intricacies of physical, mental, social, and spiritual health and growth. Recently, I had an abdominal viral infection that made it difficult to eat. I started losing weight again. When I told Cynthia I was down to 129 pounds from 144 pounds a few months ago, she said, “As for your weight, why don’t you forgo the scale for a while? It may reinforce the deficiencies rather than having you focus on the healing.“ A powerful point that exemplifies Cynthia’s guidance in not only physical matters, but also mental and spiritual transformation. 

See what shows up

When the viral infection lingered, Cynthia and her husband, David, gifted me a two-hour consultation with her intuitive healing mentor, Martine Bloquiaux. Martine lives in Maui, but she was able to scan my body on a Zoom call and offer some powerful insights. 

Martine not only scanned all the organs in my body, but also my “light.” After scanning my light, she said, “But your light, as a light being, is…I only have two clients who are as high as you. So whatever needs to happen with you, whether you live or die or whatever, you have a great life and you had a great life already. So congratulations.”

“The other thing is that you have only come into that very recently, which also means that the body naturally cleans out to update the cells. So it could also very well be that you are right at the perfect place to get better. But anybody that comes to me with that kind of level, they have to deal with the rejuvenation of the whole body also. So that is not any different with you. Very, very nice, very beautiful.”

I could really feel like my body was going through a reset. I feel like I am being whittled down to the bone, after which I will rejuvenate into a whole new body free of obstacles and dis-ease. Unfortunately, going through a reset is a very taxing process and I am aware that it could also kill me.

My oncologist is very worried about my health since recent CT scans show that one tumor is growing and the other is pushing into my right kidney. She begs me to start palliative chemo every time I talk with her. But something inside still says no to chemo. 

Martine asked me if I had ever done chemo or radiation. “Never,” I replied. Martine said that it was good that I didn’t do chemo or radiation because I wouldn’t have made it. She gets a distinct no for both, which correlates with what I was feeling into. But she also said, “I’m really happy that they operated on you. I really don’t think you would have made it.” 

“Going only at the pace of guidance” seems to have served me well on this 5-year healing journey. I am grateful for all the guidance that seems to magically show up at the perfect moment. 

A reason to live

On a deeper level, both Cynthia and Martine have challenged me to look deep inside for why I want to live. Martine said, “We have to learn to absorb again. So literally and emotionally—literally you have to eat, but emotionally you have to find your reason for living. And I’m so sorry, but if you have no purpose in this life then you don’t need this vessel. Then I prefer you become a big fat angel who comes to help me…I know you want to live, but if you want to live you’ve got to have a purpose. And I’m not talking an emotional or physical purpose, I’m talking a spiritual purpose—you are still here to learn something, you are still here to contribute to something. It doesn’t matter. It is about you, not about others. It’s about you. You need a diary, you need to sit on the beach. You need to do whatever you need to do, but you need to get your act together on that one more than anything else.” 

I’m still ruminating on that quest. I have some ideas of speaking to others live or on a podcast on how I navigate the ups and downs of a life of uncertainty. It seems relevant now, since not only cancer patients are facing uncertainty. This story is one small step in that direction.


I am so grateful for all the love and support I have experienced on this healing journey. Cynthia is in contact with me every week, and she has not charged me a cent for all her consultations. Michael Lerner, Nancy Hepp, Laura Pole, Miki Scheidel, and Maria Williams offer me deep care and guidance every week on our BCCTBeyond Conventional Cancer Therapies (predecessor website to CancerChoices) conference calls. The members of my Tuesday meditation circle routinely send me food packages from Whole Foods, poems, donations, phone calls, and unconditional love and support.

I am really experiencing what Martine said, “you have a great life and you had a great life already.” So it’s really a win-win situation. Odd thing for a metastatic cancer patient to say, but it is the truth.

Addendum March 2, 2021

Our beloved colleague Kozo Hattori passed from life on March 1, 2021. He died the way he wanted to die and on his own terms. His beautiful spirit is with us, as a part of our team, helping make BCCT what it is meant to be. He serves as inspiration to all of us.

Learn more

About the Author

Kozo Hattori

Kozo Hattori served as a research associate for BCCT from 2019 to 2021. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015 and came to see cancer as one of the greatest gifts he ever received.

Learn More

Kozo Hattori served as a research associate for BCCT from 2019 to 2021. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015 and came to see cancer as one of the greatest gifts he ever received. After two years of exploring a plethora of alternative treatments, Kozo took a more integrative approach and allowed surgeons to remove the tumor. Seeing medicine as one healing institution rather than the binaries of alternative vs. allopathic medicine helped open his mind, heart and body to heal fully from cancer. Kozo published a book on his healing journey titled The Healing Grace of Cancer.

His cancer returned and metastasized in late 2019.

Kozo Hattori Past Research Associate