Kim Collins Photo

Photo by Dawn Chapman Whitty 

She’s beautiful. She’s brilliant. Her voice is unmistakable. For those who attended the 2nd Annual SURVIVORville festivities in 2014, they will remember her as the beautiful woman on stage as we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Look Good Feel Better. She is the amazing Kim Collins.

Simply put, her smile will take your breath away. Then watch her take the stage. She is a performer extraordinaire and that is just the beginning of what has turned out for this beauty to be a fairy tale story of life and love. Living a perfect life of music with her husband Scott in the band known as “The Smoking Flowers”, they certainly know how to fire up any crowd with their brand of rock, blues and country and a sweet flavor of Southern Gothic folk, all with a punk attitude.

Spending a life in the studio and on the road, Scott and Kim were tallying up the miles between gigs until a cancer diagnosis stopped the music. Shortly after the mix of their sophomore album 2 Gun, Kim received news she had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She was only 41. Kim chose a non-traditional approach to treatment. She made the decision to begin a regimented and holistic approach to fighting the disease. She decided against chemotherapy, radiation and hormones and committed to a diet of 100% raw food and radically alternative treatments.

Now fully in remission, this cancer survivor has taken the stage again, but this time she’s even more driven – and she has a mission. In a personal interview with Kim, Karen Shayne digs deep with the musician on how cancer has changed the music of her life and how that change is driving her to create new journeys.

1. Kim, you were living your life as a musician/artist with your *sweet (and I might add quite handsome) hubby, when at 41 years old when you were diagnosed with cancer. Some people may be shocked to find out you traded traditional treatments for a more holistic approach. That decision was a very personal one and one that required dramatic changes to your life – particularly for someone living life on the road. Tell us about those changes and how you maintain that change on a daily basis.

You know it’s funny because I was very health conscious my whole adult life. I was vegetarian for 18 years at the time of my diagnosis, practiced yoga and meditation, took only herbal medications whenever I got sick, and my friends always called upon me for natural health advice. So it was quite a shock to everyone when they learned I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Oh boy, I wasn’t as healthy as I thought! Of course, once you really dig into the research, you learn that cancer does not discriminate and even the so-called “healthiest” of us are at risk. But I always knew if cancer were ever to come my way I would treat it without toxic therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation if possible. It was a no-brainer to me, and I followed my instinct even when my Oncologist basically told me I was crazy. I decided not to let fear sway my decisions on treatment, because once those choices are made, there’s no going back.

So the changes were interesting, because my diet was pretty good already but I never thought about things like eating refined sugar or white flour in the past. Now I know that eating processed or raw sugar is like throwing gasoline on a fire when you have cancer. I’ve been sugar free since that first day of diagnosis! That might be one of the biggest health benefits out of this experience. Yes, I now eat some fruit, but it’s very limited.

The other changes I took on with a holistic healing approach was committing to a raw food diet as well as a cancer diet. I went 100% raw food for the first 6 months to help my body heal itself. It was tough because at the time there were no raw food restaurants so I basically turned my kitchen into a restaurant of its own. I became very passionate with this diet, and it gave me something else to focus on while dealing with the stresses of having cancer and treating it. My friends would come over to learn to “cook” raw with me and I think my diet inspired a lot of people in my life to look at what they were eating on a deeper level and to make changes on their own. I am happy that something like my diagnosis could not only make me a healthier person after the initial battle, but it made several of my loved ones healthier in the process. Even though I am no longer 100% raw, I still adopt raw food into my daily diet, and I drink green juice (no fruit, just greens and veggies) EVERY SINGLE DAY. Alkalinity and enzymes are the key here, and is why eating raw is so powerful during any healing crisis.

My cancer treatment was not just about diet, however. As far as my alternative treatments go, I did several different protocols. To name a few, I did intravenous Vitamin C, Oxygen therapy, B-17 Amygdalin injections (a type of non toxic “chemotherapy”), Protocel, electro medicine, infrared sauna therapy, heavy metal detoxification and various intense herbal remedies. The list is too much to go into detail in this interview, but for the interested I talk a lot about the protocols and therapies on my blog, The Warrior & The Wishbone. I also want to point out the importance of the emotional state and that working to heal this is equally, if not more, important than taking an herb or even diet. So I saw different spiritual healers to address any emotional stresses in my life, from the conscious to the subconscious. I also rid toxic people in my life that were draining my energy. Woah, that was fun. Lol.

It’s all about building a strong immune system.

(As far as how I “maintain these changes on a daily basis”):
Once you adopt these healthy changes, you end up feeling so good it’s very easy to maintain them in your daily life. Being healthy and staying cancer free is a life style to me now. It’s not a diet or burden.

2. What are some of the unique challenges your diagnosis brought to your life and how those challenges brought personal inspiration to your NOU life after cancer?
The most unique challenge for me I guess was choosing to NOT go the traditional western route of cancer treatment (chemo, radiation or hormones). I did have the guidance of a holistic MD, but I was basically on my own to determine which natural protocol was right for me. And the Internet is filled with so much contradiction pertaining to natural treatments I really had to follow my instincts. My husband Scott was a godsend and I couldn’t have done it without his support. He helped me research treatments and even changed his diet and life style choices to help me along the way. I tell you, I don’t know what I would have done with out him. These changes have brought us closer together as a couple… the “NOU” us after cancer.

I chose to perceive my cancer diagnosis as a necessary life-changing event that gave me the opportunity to transform my life. I am now almost 46 years old and healthier than I could have ever imagined after going through cancer. I actually say that cancer made me healthy!

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Kim coming soon!

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Karen Shayne has received numerous honors for her work with cancer survivors. Most recently in 2014, she and co-founder, Judy Pearson, were recognized in Washington, D.C., by the American Association of Cancer Research and profiled in the AACR’s National Cancer Progress Report. A cancer survivor herself, she is the co-founder of the Women Survivors Alliance, which is the parent organization of NOU magazine and My 2nd Act, Stories from the Stage.