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Jamaica Observer: Dr Elorine Turner-Pryce - The holistic approach
Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 11:20:16 AM

THE year was 2014, and Dr Elorine Turner-Pryce was in the prime of her life. Everything seemed to have taken shape — she was a lecturer in the Department of Criminology and Justice at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville, she had started her law degree, she was firm in her spirituality, her health food store business was doing well, and her family was flourishing. It was as though nothing could go wrong, but unfortunately, it didn't take long before her equilibrium was thrown out of balance. 

“I had found a lump in my breast in April of 2014 but had ignored it because I thought I was just gaining weight. By August of the same year, I realised it was getting bigger. My husband was abroad at the time and I called to let him know. Still, I was not thinking it was the worst. In late November it was confirmed to be breast cancer — stage two — by the mammogram, biopsy and an ultrasound,” Dr Turner-Pryce disclosed.

She told All Woman that she was devastated. But in her moment of despair, she made the decision to 'prepare for life', not just for herself, but for thousands of other breast cancer victims who she said did not have to die.

“On hearing my diagnosis, I froze. For several days I was pensive, frightened and anxious. After my diagnosis was confirmed, my husband, who is a medical doctor, called a family meeting. I was heartbroken that night when I looked into the eyes of my family and saw the fear and pain I knew they were experiencing. I told myself quietly that I must survive and I must fight; this became the motto of my journey to survival,” Dr Turner-Pryce said.

The mother of two, who is in her early 50s, was herself not equipped with much knowledge about breast cancer. And for the first time, she understood why ignorance of the condition was more debilitating than the disease itself. She wanted to change this, and months on her back with tubes running through her body inspired her decision to change the narrative. Cancer, she said, is not a death sentence.

“I thought about the many women who were in a similar position and who did not have the information I was privy to. I read 16 hours a day to ensure I got the information I needed and further consulted with my doctor. I then began to write my book which was published in 2016 titled Prepare to Live: A Caribbean Woman's Guide to Breast Cancer Survival,” Dr Turner-Pryce said.

The book, which features contributions from Dr Michael McFarlane, Dr Rajeev Venugopal, Dr Curtis Pryce and consultant and holistic nutritionist Dr Basil Fadipe, was just the first phase in Dr Turner-Pryce's journey to breast cancer advocacy. She quit her job at NCU and took a year off from law school to focus on educating and supporting victims and survivors, a decision which was also inspired by her participation in a holistic nutritional programme.

“After I completed my chemotherapy regimen, my husband enlisted me for treatment at the Uchee Pines Lifestyle Centre in Georgia. My treatment included a plant-based diet, which was 95 per cent raw; I have since become a raw food enthusiast. Other requirements included exercising 30 minutes daily, walking in the sunlight and fresh air, two to three litres of water daily. Moderation or temperance in all things became a hallmark for me; I had a full night's rest of six to eight hours of sleep and I meditated to ensure my mental comfort . I laughed about everything, even myself. The treatment was so effective that I also got trained as a holistic nutritionist,” Dr Turner-Pryce related.

The St Elizabeth native said that she is now committed to teaching women about living a holistic, healthy lifestyle including raw food preparation and vegan cooking. To date, she says she has written more than eight books on cooking for health and healing, and through her project Eden Joy Holistic Living, she organises educational conferences, cooking and nutrition seminars, and develops nutritional and cosmetic products that can be utilised in prevention, healing and maintenance.

Her mission is not quite complete, however, and though she has many qualifications under her belt, Dr Turner-Pryce says she will only be satisfied when she finishes her law degree.

“I believe that this will put me in a better position to advocate in a more substantial way, starting with policies that are guided by the inclusion of healthy nutrition in the treatment of cancer and other diseases that are lifestyle-related,” she reasoned.

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