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My Recovery From Cancer in a Lifely Hospital

Debra Redalia

Beautiful mobiles at UCSF cancer hospital uplift visitor's gaze and put their attention on something other than their condition.


Since the beginning of December, I have been dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

I haven’t written about it here because there were a lot of unknowns and I didn’t want to give you all the uncertainties about this or have you worry about me.

But now that it’s over, I want to tell you what happened.

I had some symptoms at the beginning of December that scared me enough to rush to the Emergency Room. They did some tests and told me to go see my doctor right away regarding a “possible malignancy.”

I could not believe this. Here I had been living so nontoxic for so long, how could I possibly have cancer? The symptoms subsided, but after all the tests were done, my body, indeed, did have cancer.

It was a rare cancer. They didn’t know the cause, but they could tell it was of the “aggressive” type so the tumor needed to be removed before the cancer spread to the rest of my body. I have had people around me who lost their bodies after their cancers metastasized, so I understood the risk I would be taking if I didn’t have the tumor removed.

I wanted to live, and I wanted to get through this as quickly as I could.

I looked for alternative treatments, but there were none for this particular cancer. I could do all the general health-supporting things recommended by some people who had beat cancer, but I was already doing many of those things, like eating organic whole foods and avoiding toxic chemicals.

So even though modern medicine isn’t my first choice, I am willing to use emergency medicine to save my life. And this was one of those times.

So over the weekend I had the surgery to remove my tumor.

But I had this surgery in the best possible way.

The surgery was done at UCSF, which is one of the best hospitals in the country. It’s no ordinary hospital. It’s a highly regarded teaching hospital. The cancer buildings are newly built, but they are LEED certified (to be green and nontoxic) and they are fragrance-free.

You walk into this hospital and everything is clean and orderly, the air is fresh, and if you stand there for a minute or two someone will walk up to you with a smile and ask you if you need help. The first time I went there, they took me in for my service before my appointment time.

In addition—I have never seen this before—they have a “zero tolerance for violence” in their facilities. They even have posters about this all around, as ubiquitous as no smoking and fragrance-free signs. "UCSF is committed to maintaining a safe workplace that is free from threats and acts of intimidation and violence...weapons, knives, alcohol, illegal drugs and other dangerous materials are not allowed in our facilities. It is the expectation that you conduct yourself in a respectful, non-violent and non-abusive manner.” This was particularly interesting to me because I have recently been studying violence and non-violence in preparation for writing about this on my new Lifely websites.

This hospital is simply aligned with everything that is important to me.

The surgery went as smoothly as it possibly could. I had the relatively new robot-assisted laproscopy procedures instead of the old=fashioned surgery with a big incision. I just have five tiny incisions with no stitches that will take six weeks to heal. As they heal, the bandages will just fall off. I have had no pain at all, with only Tylenol for pain management.

I had a huge, simple, clean room. One whole wall was a window with a view of San Francisco Bay. So I had a lot of light and sky up on the sixth floor. They brought in an extra bed for Larry so he could be with me through the entire post-op time until I had recovered enough to leave.

The food was…well, edible. I can’t say great. But they had a huge menu that I could order from any time from 7 am to 8 pm. And they had a lot of organic food on the menu. They would deliver it any time I was hungry with no limitations.

And my insurance is paying fo everything.

The prognosis is full recovery and that’s what I’m expecting. Already I’m feeling better not having the cancer in my body.

Here are two other posts I’ve written about this experience, from different viewpoints.

SPIRITS BRIGHT: The Right Decision

DEBRALYNNDADD.COM: Toxics, Food, and Cancer—My Personal Experience


uite simply, this blog is about orienting ourselves and our lives to life, instead of orienting ourselves and our lives to industrial consumerism. Here we are sharing our own journey. You come too.

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Debra & Larry Redalia
lifepartners + soulmates

For more than 30 years we have been delving into the nature and activities of life together. Indeed, this has been and continues to be the very reason we are together. With delight we research, explore, observe and even wake each other up in the middle of the night to discuss how life functions and how we can function as life—even while living in the modern world. We each are different from the norm, but we are different in the same way, so we have been able to think outside of the ordinary together and find the extraordinary workings of life.

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DEBRA REDALIA, Co-Founder of Lifely, has been researching and writing about lifestlye topics for more than forty years. After her first book on nontoxic consumer products was published in 1984, she went on to be the leader in this field as Debra Lynn Dadd. In June 2019, she retired from writing about toxics and industrial consumer products to establish The Lifely Group with her llifepartner and soulmate Larry Redalia. This next step into life beyond industrialization is the result of a lifetime of research and making lifely changes in her own life that have given her greater health and happiness.