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Meals are helping Carroll fight cancer

SALISBURY — The Congregational Church is hosting a community dinner, with live music and an art auction, to support Theresa Carroll, who is battling cancer.Carroll, a massage therapist, is forthcoming about her illness. She said in an interview this week that she was diagnosed in late October with anal/rectal cancer after experiencing a serious lack of energy and what she thought were hemorrhoids in the preceding months.By the middle of September she stopped working and began a diet of whole foods, which helped.And in October she began what she calls “energy work,” an unconventional approach that Carroll concedes is considered quackery by some.It seems to be working in her case, however. Carroll said she had about 75 percent of her pre-illness energy level back. She does see her regular doctor to monitor her condition, and she reports that her blood work is good.The Rev. Diane Monti-Catania, pastor of the Congregational Church, said the congregation and the community at large have come together to organize support for Carroll.On Thursdays Carroll and her family receive a meal made from the healthy foods she uses to treat her cancer.“They must think we’re really big eaters,” said Carroll. “It lasts all weekend.”The volunteer chefs are creative, too. “The meals have been wonderfully delicious and very colorful.”Carroll said she avoids foods that are acidic. “Cancer thrives” with such foods as sugars, white flour, diary, some grains and processed foods.Instead she emphasizes the alkaline — broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, leeks, scallions, cabbage, kale, spinach, onions and root vegetables.The only one that she dislikes is broccoli.Carroll said she chose to treat her cancer holistically after considerable thought. The conventional route would have involved five weeks of combined radiation and chemotherapy, and possibly several surgeries.In her work as a massage therapist, Carroll had seen cancer patients heal, and observed that the most successful used an “integrative” approach — “within their own philosophy or worldview.”Carroll said she was aware of her own body’s ability to heal, and had seen on her massage table results “that could be labeled ‘miraculous.’”The experience has also involved a shift in roles for Carroll. With 30 years of training and experience in being a caregiver, suddenly she is on the other side of the equation.“A gift for me has been to take a hard look at how my upbringing trained me to give, not to receive. I have had to do a lot of personal introspection.“I know how wonderful it feels to be the go-to person, to facilitate healing. Why deprive anyone who wants to feel that?”A dinner hosted by the church Feb. 25 is a fundraiser, with no fixed donation. Monti-Catania and Carroll both noted that anonymous donors have already come forth with contributions to help make up for lost income.Carroll said she was initially uncomfortable with the anonymity, “but I realized that 50 percent of wanting a face-to-face was to discharge the gift. Now I have to look at the entire community as a donor.”Monti-Catania said she was heartened that the effort to assist Carroll is not confined to the church congregation. “There’s a tremendous amount of positive energy, of people coming together to do something good, just for the sake of being kind.“Nothing else is quite as rewarding.”The dinner is Saturday, Feb. 25, 5:30 p.m. at the Salisbury Congregational Church.

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