Alicja Rozanska: Lost Partner, Protector, and Healer

The very first time I saw this very tall noble woman walking around our neighbourhood marketplace, I knew she was someone special. Later when I got to know her and spoke to her co-workers, they said when you meet Alicja you are getting the real deal, you will be talking to someone who is real, and she has a sense of humour.

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Alicja and our grandson Justice on Gladstone Ave. in Toronto around 2005. Photo by Danny Beaton.

When I first did meet Alicja at Taste of Nature, the local health store in our neighbourhood, I felt she was totally magnificent, delicate, and original. I was taken aback by her demeanour. Then it was weeks later I got a call around midnight one night, and Alicja said she had just come back from Moose Factory, James Bay area where she had taken the long train ride to go camping alone. She told me a lone wolf, who was very friendly, had stayed close to her camp and had followed her around all the time she was up there hiking and exploring. Alicja said she had seen plenty of wildlife, bears, moose and smaller animals. She said she knew Canada was stolen land and felt guilty being here. Alicja said she had seen me around our neighbourhood for many years, but we had not met. I asked her to come on over to my place and stay the night with me, and when she arrived we were together for almost fourteen years till the very morning she died in my arms. My life has never been the same, from the enormous loss and amount of love and beauty that we shared with each other. Alicja gave and shared love with everyone we became friends with and worked with.

We had been using natural herbs like dandelion root, red clove, milk thistle, and burdock root most of the summer of 2013 and fall. By October, Alicja had an appointment with Dr. Gabor Kandel in the Dept. of Gastroenterology at St. Michael’s Hospital, and we thought all of this must be an infection, but we were told Alicja had stage four cancer; it was in her lungs, liver and colon. The next day, I began phoning all my professional friends and asking them if they knew anyone who had beaten stage 4 cancer. It turned out my best friend told me a friend of his, who was an environmentalist/farmer, his wife had beat stage 4 cancer 20 years ago and was still living. This gave me and Alicja great hope because we had positive news so fast. But it turned out the doctor, Dr. Rudy Falk, had died himself ten years ago. I learned Dr Falk had an office on College Street here in Toronto. Dr. Rudy Falk was a surgeon and was treating his patients in his office on College Street with alternative protocols such as high doses of intravenous vitamins C, D, B and mistletoe, poly-MV, etc. Dr Falk had also administered hypothermia and was doing his own x-ray tests in his office to locate tumours.

Alicja took me to many places. From the first time we met, we were going to Simcoe County and Georgian Bay. We were swimming and hiking and berry picking. Once she started to swim so fast and so far, I couldn’t see her almost. She stopped and waved to me from the middle of the lake. I was calling to her, “Come back! Come back!” She was a strong swimmer. She took me hiking in Iceland, New Mexico, British Columbia, and New York, and all over Ontario, Canada, up mountains. She really loved to hike and swim, so she planned all of our trips.

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L to R: Alice Gibson, Mohawk; Audrey Shenandoah, Onandaga; Jeannie Shenandoah, Onandaga; Alicja Rozanska, Kaszebe/Polish at the Gibson Farm, Six Nations Territory. Photo by Danny Beaton.

The first time I spoke to her was in Taste of Nature, a health food store where she worked at the time. She used to work in a macrobiotic restaurant in the Annex around 2001, but she first lived in Chicago. She came to Toronto twenty-three years ago. She told me that there was no work for her in Poland, but she said she was here now for her son, Rigel, named after the brightest star in the constellation Orion. She was also working as a bookkeeper for my friend at one time; she had taken some courses at University of Toronto and received very good marks she really understood mathematics. Later she found a job with the Canada Revenue Agency. After a couple of years she became a team leader, managing and overseeing 16 people on her team. At the same time, she volunteered to organize some social programs for her staff and her department. Alicja initiated environmental and energy conservation projects and Native cultural exhibits. What we had in common was that we believed in healing, laughter, having fun, and holistic health and organic food just to name a few of the things that we shared. To put it mildly, she was a nature-oriented person, but her biggest interests were her son, traveling, and being in a forest or water.

We picked berries every year. Strawberries first, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. She loved mushroom picking and fresh water from the Alliston Aquifer in Georgian Bay area. There are places where the water shoots out from the ground, the surface springs. This is what we protected and we were fighting for in Simcoe County when we got involved in stopping dump site 41. We were involved for several years in a protest in Simcoe County, being arrested when we set up blockades with Ojibwa women of that area to stop the machines from raping the farmland and taking water away. Later we fought for Dufferin County to stop the Mega Quarry from raping farmland and water. Alicja received an award from the citizens of Simcoe County, a plaque that says: “Protect Our Water Stop Dump Site 41 Alicja Rozanska Site 41 Hero.”

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L to R: Chief Oren Lyons, Danny Beaton, Alicja Rozanska, John Mohawk, and Rigel Rozanska in front. Photo by Brian Daniels around 2001.

She died on June 29, 2014 in my arms. We thought that she had an infection, but we were devastated when (in November 2013) she was diagnosed with fourth stage cancer. She was weak and bleeding. Her cancer had spread to her liver and lungs and colon. During Chernobyl, when Alicja was a teenager, she went on a school field trip into the mountains. Nobody had told people that there is radiation in the air. She felt that she was contaminated with radiation while she was on that school trip in the mountains during the Chernobyl catastrophe.

She was with me for fourteen years. We traveled with (Native) activists and elders, because I was a Native filmmaker first on Alice Gibson farm, so Alicja met the Elders before and after filming. The Elders treated her with respect because they liked her. Alicja brought positive and peaceful energy wherever we went. Around the same time, we were traveling to Georgian Bay and Simcoe County. We visited several Native camps, and we almost always left Toronto every Saturday just to get into the bush and water. Wherever we went, Alicja always helped with the cooking and cleaning. All of these trips that we took only happened on the weekends or when she had holidays. Up in Simcoe County, we attended many Native ceremonies and feasts in order to help the environmental struggles that we were involved in. She loved Native food and tried buffalo, deer, beaver, muskrat, fish and especially loved to make fish soup. My people believe in laughter, and she loved to joke with everyone. We were staying with the people of Simcoe County as often as we could. Oh yes, she loved drumming and the stars…

After she passed away, somebody from her work answered the phone when I called and said they knew her well, so I tried to get her to talk about her relationship with people at work. That woman said, “When you are talking to Alicja, you are talking to the real thing and so when you are talking to Alicja you are getting the real deal.” The second woman that I talked to from her team agreed with me that Alicja was one of the most amazing people that she had ever met because she cared so much about her team and all the life struggles that were happening in the world. She said that Alicja was involved with all the personal problems at work because that was her job, and she cared about everybody.

Alicja became a foster parent for Native kids through Native Child and Family Services. I was told that I was the first foster parent for this system in Toronto. We went to a Christmas party one year and Landy Anderson suggested that I should be a foster parent, so I asked Alicja. We completed the program and learned how to be foster parents through the Native Child and Family Services policy. We had a few kids in our home. Some were needy kids, some were well organized, and we took care of these kids, and Alicja loved those kids like they were her own.

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Janet Nadjiron, Alicja, Rigel, Wilmer Nadjiron Camp, Owen Sound. Photo by Danny Beaton around 2003.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, she knew she would be treating it in a natural way. Alicja had spent most of her life as an alternative holistic thinker and natural holistic human being. We were using organic herbs that were passed on to us from Natives and Alicja had been studying healing all the years I knew her, so we even had some herbs in our garden. We spent a lot of time using medicines that were being used to fight cancer but were non toxic, and they did not kill immune system that protects the body. Alicja did not want to use chemotherapy or radiation or surgery. She felt she could cure herself, and she wanted to take control over her own body. This was an important rule she thought, but she took my advice to seek out the ones who followed Dr. Rudy Falk’s work. Most of the contacts I made came from Googling over the internet.

During the 14 years I lived with Alicja, she never even took aspirin. The first clinic we found that was using some of Dr. Falk’s work was the Nasari clinic. Alicja began treatments at Nasari clinic including roughly 20 treatments of high doses of intravenous vitamin C, D, and mistletoe, Poly MV, and other non-toxic medicines. At home, Alicja was using protocols off the internet such as the Budwig diet, drinking organic vegetable juices 3 times a day, taking baking soda baths, using the Tesla Proton IIX Sound Machine, and using infrared lights to kill cancer cells. Later, Alicja began using Essiac Tea and essential oils. We traveled to our house in Simcoe county on April 15th, and I began to tap birch trees so she could drink the birch water. Alicja was also a patient at Grand River Regional Cancer Center; her doctor there was Dr. Knight. Alicja began protocols at Marsden Centre with many treatments of hyperthermia and chemotherapy; however, the cancer had spread, and we were too late in using any kind of medicine.

Alicja loved Dr. Eric Marsden and Dr. Ashley Chauvin and all their nurses because she told me they talked to her and really cared for her healing. This journey in Canada for Alicja was healing and later shattering for her and me, but Alicja never steered away from her spiritual or intellectual thoughts or values. Alicja said to me “you cannot change my destiny” and after we lost our baby years before Alicja said to me “I have no future now.” These things she said to me echo in my mind just like the way we began to study the stars at night when we would sit outside in the bush or when we camped out.

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Alicja hiking in the Adirondack Mountains around 2011.

The universe was alive for Alicja. Of all the people and elders I have known in my lifetime, Alicja was the purist loving human being I have ever seen or known. I photographed her for fourteen years, swimming, hiking, or smiling; she was an incredible swimmer, dancer, and hiker! If I could say anything to the Polish people it would be that you lost and gained a female hero and spiritual leader who was almost not noticed by many. Only photographs can show the strength and calmness of Alicja or anyone else who was able to remember or capture her incredible beauty and love that she carried and shared. My words do not do her life justice. The reason why I am writing about the non-toxic protocols Alicja was using is because Alicja would want society and people to know about non-toxic medicines available to stop cancer!