As you know, I’m taking some GreenSmoothieGirl readers with me to the Paracelsus al Ronc clinic in the Southern Swiss Alps, May 5-19. Read more HERE. There are a few rooms left, if you’re thinking about coming. I thought you would enjoy this letter I got from my dear friend Bonnie, a Stage 1 breast cancer patient, who just returned from Paracelsus.
(My friend Janet, my age, a mother of 6 and a Stage IV pancreatic cancer patient, opted out of chemotherapy at the last-minute, as her doctor told her it would extend her 6 months to just a few more months. She, too, is now at Paracelsus.) Clearly I am confident in the treatment at this clinic, to send my own friends there. You’ll know why when you read Bonnie’s letter:
March 11, 2013
I just got back from Paracelsus al Ronc in Castenada, Switzerland, and I wanted to tell you what an amazing experience I had. It far exceeded any of my expectations in every possible way, even though you told me it was incredible. I can’t thank you enough for encouraging me to go.
I wish I had gone there BEFORE I got cancer. But now, with it, I could not have wished for anything better than Dr. Petra Wiechel and her clinic. (If you are reading this, google Paracelsus al Ronc Cancer Clinic.)
THANK YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY. I want to share my experience with you from a patient’s perspective.
Upon arriving, it felt more like a resort with a spectacular view, than a clinic! I LOVED my room! All the rooms have a great balcony with a view of the little town below and the Alps! Spectacular! The windows were so large that even when it was too cold to be on the balcony, I still had a beautiful view!
The meals were a complete surprise. I expected great food because you had told me it was great. But it was EXCELLENT! I didn’t have any idea that healthy veggies could be prepared SO MANY WAYS and all be SO DELICIOUS! The sauces are WONDERFUL! What I didn’t expect was that meals were served as though we were in a fine restaurant–with several courses and a delightful waiter and chefs! The Wiechels and the staff ate with us!
Every Friday, they have fun musical entertainment for 30 min and then a GALA dinner–with dim lighting, candlelight, flowers, and an EXTRA delicious meal! The Wiechel family joins everyone–they even help serve the patients on Friday nights–and it’s like a big family! We had International Women’s Day while I was there, Dr. Wiechel’s husband, Ulf, who is a gracious and accommodating host, gave every woman a rose at lunch! I always felt as though I were at a fun family outing rather than at a clinic for medical care! Unbelievable! It was fun, too, because during meals there were many speaking German, Italian, French, Swiss-German, Romanian–all sorts of languages at dinner, patients from everywhere! Many speak SOME English, though – so it’s fun to learn some other language tidbits and talk to the other patients!
I must say something about the entire staff before I tell you about the treatments! I have NEVER seen a place where EVERY staff member is so calm, warm, gentle and kind–and they all speak softly with such caring! I found out that they were “hand-picked” from all different countries for not only their skill but their warmth–and that certainly showed. I felt that every one of them really cared about how I was doing and how I felt throughout my time there. It was like having a bevy of kind caretakers surrounding me the whole time there. One feels totally safe, cared for, and relaxed!
If I forgot my special drink at 10 in the morning, sometimes Jake would see me waiting for a treatment and bring it to me right in the lobby! I LOVED the entire staff! I have high blood pressure. But there, it went to 110/64, lower than it has ever been! I was SO CALM there.
As you know, Robyn, I was terrified of doing the hyperthermia treatment, which is so effective for cancer. My family makes jokes about how I am cold-blooded because I set my thermostat in the dead of winter to 65 and am always very warm in a t-shirt when everyone else is freezing. I have naturally high body temperature. I did not think I could do hyperthermia, as I cannot stand to be hot. You encouraged me to do it anyway, and Dr. Petra pushed me gently, as well.
Not only was I successful at it, but they found my favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice, to watch during the treatment, and they found my favorite music by Andrea Bocelli (in honor of Italy, just over the mountain range I looked out upon, during my treatments), to listen to and keep me comfortable. I did just fine! Afterwards, I was tired, of course, and went to my room rather than going to the lunchroom. Dr. Petra came to my room with a bouquet of roses to chat with me and make sure I was okay. I have never felt so nurtured.
One of my favorite things is that Dr. Wiechel is a traditionally trained medical doctor, AND she has extra training as a holistic or “biological” doctor. That alone is cause for great confidence–and she is amazing.
When she came to get me in the lobby as I arrived, she linked arms with me, and chatted like we were old friends. So warm and caring, as they ALL are! The treatments that I had even surprised me! We got a paper each night by our dinner setting, telling us the schedule for the next day. There are many things that require disrobing and seemingly rather indelicate procedures–but everything was done with such graciousness (even for all levels of fatness like mine!) that I never felt awkward or embarrassed in my entire 3 weeks there.
After treatments, we have our wonderful rooms to go back to–and the special coffee enemas are done in the privacy of your own room. THEY come to YOU, and even the enemas were done as gently as everything else. It was like home away from home and delicious meals in between all the treatments!
There is time for much walking. I would recommend that you should walk up to Santa Rosa and see the little church there–always open–GO INSIDE. There are prettier and safer shortcuts to both Santa Rosa and Grono (the next town down from Castenada), so ask about that. There is also great bus service right from the clinic to Bellinzona (the front desk has the schedule). But on the way back, ask the bus driver if it’s the route going back to the clinic, and you have to change buses once.
Bellinzona is built inside “extended castle territory”–with Castle Grande to tour and 2 other castles. Inside the Castle Grande visitor lobby, watch the great little movie about it–ask for English–and there is a little grotto restaurant for lunch meals that is darling and delicious to eat at.
There is also a large restaurant in the castle only for evening meals. Also, every Saturday, down in Bellinzona, there is a street market from 9:30 to noon, great fun! Some clinic treatments are scheduled on Saturdays, so if you are going to the street market, let Dr. Petra or her son (at the front desk) know ahead of time!
You will be in the ITALIAN part of Switzerland. No cuckoo clocks, etc., like in the German sector by the Black Forest! Lots of vineyards and wine and great cheeses though! In the towns, most speak Italian and some English. In the clinic, the doctor speaks German and some English.
Milan (where you fly in) uses euros, but Switzerland uses francs. You can trade dollars for euros and francs in banks –but some only exchange the paper money–and only certain banks will have or change the coins. Many shops will take credit cards, but some of the small restaurants, fast food, and smaller places do not. Remember that whatever you see in francs or euros is a bit less than what your actual cost will be in American dollars. There are machines and booths in many places for money exchanges. Have some cash handy for tips.
Robyn, I can’t thank you enough for your discovery of that wonderful jewel in a tiny corner of the Alps! I was SO depressed and frightened when diagnosed with cancer–but I know many more things to do to help myself, now that I am back to reality. Now the challenge is to incorporate all that I have learned for better health!
I lost weight and came home with so much energy–my family was shocked when I went tubing with my grandkids, something I’d normally WATCH rather than participate in. But with fewer pounds, and more energy, I wanted to join the fun! [Bonnie’s daughter texted me a video of her tubing down the hill.]
Thank you SO MUCH for all you are doing for everyone wanting better health and especially for those of us with cancer. Please tell anyone, from a PATIENT there, how wonderful it is. If they have any questions, from a patient perspective, let me know and I will be happy to respond! [Note from Robyn: write email@example.com for Bonnie’s email.]
I will absolutely be going back–I can’t wait! Dr. Wiechel and the entire staff at Al Ronc breathe healthy, happy life into every soul!