However, this did not last for long. In 1976, this man started experiencing shortness of breath upon exertion. As soon as he visited his doctor, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Moreover, the doctor even predicted that he had only a few months to live, and suggested chemo as the only possible solution.
However, Stamatis did not rely only on his diagnosis and consulted 9 other doctors. All of them gave the same diagnosis and predicted that he would live no more than 9 months.
Also, all doctors suggested that he began aggressive chemotherapy ASAP. After some time, Stamatis finally started to believe that he was really going to die.
Yet, he still refused the chemotherapy. He decided to return home to Ikaria, Greece, as his funeral would cost a lot less back there. In this way, he would have the opportunity to say goodbye to his dearest ones, his birthplace, and friends. This was actually the turning point in the story.
“Ikaria is named after Ikaros, who according to Greek mythology was the son of master craftsman Daedalus, and who was escaping imprisonment from King Minos in Crete by flying with wings his father had made. But ignoring his father’s advice, Ikarus flew too close to the sun and landed to his death on the island”
“Moraitis and Elpiniki [his wife] moved in with his elderly parents, into a tiny, whitewashed house on two acres of stepped vineyards near Evdilos, on the north side of Ikaria.”
Therefore, he returned home, and even though he was happy with the closest friends and family, he also felt depressed and hopeless and started to sleep almost the entire day, while his mother and wife took care of him.
However, after a while, he felt some strong desire to live and spend his time with friends.
“He reconnected with his faith. On Sunday mornings, he hobbled up the hill to a tiny Greek Orthodox chapel where his grandfather once served as a priest. When his childhood friends discovered that he had moved back, they started showing up every afternoon. They’d talk for hours, an activity that invariably involved a bottle or two of locally produced wine. I might as well die happy, he thought.”
At this point, a real miracle happened. He began feeling as happy as before and his strength began to return. He felt strong and vital and decided to plant his own garden.
The whole gardening practice served as a therapy and he spent productive time in the fresh air, under the sun. It started to provide a meaning to his life.
He woke up early to do all needed work in his garden. He spent his days out there, and the vegetables and fruits he grew became part of their regular meals. After half a year, he was still alive.
“… He reaped his garden and, feeling emboldened, cleaned up the family vineyard as well. Easing himself into the island routine, he woke up when he felt like it, worked in the vineyards until midafternoon, made himself lunch and then took a long nap. In the evenings, he often walked to the local tavern, where he played dominoes past midnight.
The years passed. His health continued to improve. He added a couple of rooms to his parents’ home so his children could visit. He built up the vineyard until it produced 400 gallons of wine a year.”
The health condition of Stamatis improved over the years. After 3 decades of his diagnosis, he actually realized that he was not going to be another victim of cancer. When he was 97, he finally made a decision to submit to a medical exam to confirm his belief that he has healed his cancer, but he also wanted to learn what did happen and why he did not die.
Doctors made examinations and reviewed the medical records, and stated that he was completely healthy!
Moreover, he also learned that all his doctors who diagnosed his cancer and believed he would live no longer than 9 months, were actually dead!
Namely, Stamatis lived on until the age of 102, and his death was not due to cancer!
“Herbs have a fascinating place in the local culture, as both food and folk medicine. Sage tea with honey was “our childhood antibiotic,” as my friend Yiorgos Stenos, 84, told me. Ikarians still drink this when they feel a cold coming on, as they do oregano for stomach aches, chamomile for insomnia, and more. Most of these infusions are mild diuretics, helping relieve hypertension, perhaps one reason locals have relatively little heart disease.”
Therefore, the story of Stamatis can teach you a lot about healthy living and natural cancer treatment. Namely, wholesome, seasonal food prepared with love is an extremely effective medicine.
At the same time, time spent in nature will help the patient return his desire to live and struggle for his life. Moreover, the time spent with the people we love is priceless and can actually treat depression and make us feel positive and energetic.
Furthermore, the Greek island of Ikaria is known as a Mecca for longevity, as it is rich in locally grown foods, fantastic natural beauty, peace, calmness, and healthy inhabitants. Namely, the majority of Ikarians do not suffer from the modern deadly diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
“Ikaria’s isolation helped create a living testament to the Mediterranean Diet in its most holistic sense, one in which fresh, seasonal, home-cooked food and community are interwoven in ways that sustain physical and emotional health, human relationships, and the environment.
Many Ikarians live long and well, with less cancer and heart disease than Americans, and virtually no dementia, or depression, drinking wine, enjoying sex, walking, gardening, and socializing into their sunset years. They are 10 times more likely to live to 90 or even 100 than Americans, a statistic that embraces men and women almost equally.”
According to newest reports, even nowadays, Ikaria is still a perfect, calm and idyllic place, which has deservedly gained its reputation as the “place where people forget to die”.
Also, a recent Huff Post article by Diane Kochilas, an experienced Greek-American chef, cookbook author, and TV cooking show host, titled: Ikaria: The Mindful Mediterranean Diet on the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die:
“Life on Ikaria, even in 2014, is still a paradigm for healthy living, sound of body and mind. The island has taught me to cherish relationships that span generations and continents, to enjoy and appreciate the gifts of nature, to eat real food in its season, and, perhaps, most important of all, to do so with an open heart and an open table, welcoming others to it.”