I have known Andy Porter for many, many years. I had not heard from him in some time.
He was somewhat of a legend due to his work opening Russia and many of its former satellites to scientology. Andy spent many years defining the term “pioneer.” He was an unsung hero who did a lot of the REAL work behind the scenes that ended up being glorified in IAS Freedom Medal winner videos and other event presentations.
Andy now hails from the northwestern corner of Washington State where he lives with his wife and son. He is an accomplished landscape photographer focused on capturing the beauty and majesty of the North Cascades. He sells fine art prints, teaches photo classes and gives photo tours. You can see more about Andy and his images here: www.AndyPorterImages.com
In 2015 I published an article here that recounted some of his history and included some of his photos. This is a new article he just sent to me. At the end are a number of his images as a special treat.
Scientology and Cancer
I’ve always been afraid of my own emotions, scared of what would happen if I just let go. Some fear seems to holds me back from emoting with full force…
But today I am trying to be in the moment and just let ‘er rip.
Yesterday I’d visited the hospital: After 10 months of testing, chemo and radiation treatments, my CAT scan came back negative: No sign of cancer.
I am standing atop Steptoe Butte in eastern Washington State. A late spring storm just moved through, engulfing the Butte. The dark curtain of rain passed, the sun is starting to find a way through the clouds.
Rainbows appear. First one, then several.
The visual image is astonishing: bright rainbows painted over green rolling fields.
I can’t believe my good fortune and excitedly spring out from under the bushes where I’d been huddled with my camera. An orgy of picture taking consumes me.
After some time the rainbows fade and the sun starts to set. There is a warm breeze, and I just stand there, feeling as good as I’ve ever felt. The long months of nausea, pain, suffering and despair are gone.
Unbelievably it has passed and I am still here.
My cancer story started in July 2020 with the discovery of a lump in my neck and soon a diagnosis of advanced throat cancer. The cancer had started at the base of my tongue and spread to the lymph nodes in my neck. I had 4 tumors, the largest as big as an egg.
My Mom, Phyllis Jean Randall Porter, died from breast cancer when I was 16. She endured many months of chemo and multiple surgeries. While she lay on the couch in the living room, immobilized by pain I remember that she started to give me cooking lessons. Watching her go through the process was the worst thing I could imagine.
It appeared that I would follow the same footsteps. My son, Max, had just turned 16 when I found the lumps.
Things were not looking good.
My Scientology story began in 1980, in Bellevue Washington. From 1981 until 1995 I was a staff member for the Church, I became the director of the Scientology Mission in Bellevue and soon after the Church of Scientology, Seattle Org. From 1995 until 2000 I traveled the world helping to spread Scientology, visiting Russia, India, Burkina Faso, Japan, the Philippines, Fiji, Costa Rica and Kazakhstan as well as France and Denmark.
The main center of Scientology (they call it the Mecca of Scientology) is located in Clearwater Florida. In early 2000 I was there to start the highest levels of the Scientology Bridge to Total Freedom. But things did not go as planned. The process they put me through ripped me to pieces. I escaped somehow, shaken to the core. You can read the details of that last adventure here.
In April of 2011 I was declared to be a Suppressive Person and expelled from the Church of Scientology. Expulsion is the Church of Scientology way of handling problems. If anyone complains, expel them and tell the others they are NEVER allowed to speak to that person ever again. This is how they stop the spread of bad ideas.
I’m not joking. The practice is called Disconnection.
IF you are in Scientology and let’s say your friend gets “Declared a Suppressive Person”. The people at the local Church will call you in and sit you down and tell you that you must completely disconnect from your friend if you want to continue in Scientology. Same if it’s your brother or sister. Or even your own children. You’re expected to disconnect fully and forever if the person was declared to be suppressive.
What will get you expelled? In many cases the only thing the person did was to want to leave. IF you are a Scientology Staff Member in the Sea Org (You sign a Billion Year Contract to work there) and want to leave, just that alone can get you declared a Suppressive Person. Speaking out against any abuses, disagreement with church policy, the list of the things that can get you declared a Suppressive Person is a long one!
IF an entire family is involved in Scientology and let’s says one of the children joins Scientology staff and then blows or quits. The entire family is now expected to disconnect from their son – daughter – mother or father. Whoever got cast out, no more Christmas with them…ever.
NOTE: IF you know little of the Church of Scientology I suggest watching some episodes of the A&E Documentary “Scientology and the Aftermath”. The very first episode chronicles the gut wrenching story of a mother and her daughter separated by Scientology and finally reunited.
What I did to get declared a suppressive person was to publicly state that the Policy of Disconnection was insanely wrong and that whoever was running the show had lost their way and that major reform was needed. Because I was somewhat known in the Scientology community, my speaking out was deemed a threat (a cancer!) and I was quickly cut out and expelled.
When I began treatments my cancer doctors made sure to apprise me of what lay in store, what level of pain and suffering I could expect from the treatments. In my mind I somehow imagined it wouldn’t be so bad for me, that by some miracle I wouldn’t experience any of that …
I started with chemotherapy. I got an IV port placed in my arm. It stays in you for 4 months. You stay there all day in the Cancer Center, first they fill you with fluid. When they get out the actual chemo stuff, the real shit, they gown up, use masks and gloves to even touch the pouch the stuff is in. Then there are all the meds that you need to counteract the bad side effects of the chemo stuff.
After the first 2 days, nothing really. I am thinking, hey, this is not too bad! Then it hits…first nausea, intense waves of emotion, depression and despair follow. My first treatment was on Monday. On Friday I was in the ER begging for help.
I feel like I’m burning. Burning on a cellular level, on a spiritual level. Not my skin, but from the inside. I’m agitated, amped up, pulse racing. Obsessive compulsive manic depressive. My mind slogs through the gutter of the past. Each shitty thing I did. This lasts for about a week.
And then somehow, slowly it faded. Its three weeks between treatments. I was sure the next time wouldn’t be so bad.
I can barely make my body sit through the second chemo treatment. As the day goes on I am getting more agitated and start feeling a stabbing pain in my side… it grows until I can’t stand it. I think maybe I’m imagining the pain… soon I’m wheeled over to the main hospital and given a cat scan. I am passing a kidney stone, while getting chemo.
Every night the darkest moments of my life, every single moment where I’d been an asshole, ever, in my entire life, went before me, in slow motion. I couldn’t stop it. The more I resisted the slower and more grinding the memory replay became. Over and over. Times I had misused people.
Many of the moments that make me cringe and squirm the most in my cancer riddled skin were ones when I was in Scientology. I think of the hundreds of people I recruited to work for the Church, and how their lives were fucked up from it. I recall in detail the moments when I treated people like an asshole to get the stats up or stay out of trouble.
One of the tenets of Scientology is that you are totally responsible for whatever condition you are in. This idea resonated with me when I first heard it. It seemed a cool way to deal with shit in your life.
Don’t blame your problems on nobody else. Don’t be a victim. What happened TO you is not important.
It’s what YOU did that matters.
What happened TO you was just a “Motivator”, any bad thing that comes your way is something you pulled in, YOU created this bad thing that happened to you, it’s all YOUR fault if something bad happens to you, because you must have “pulled it in” with all your bad deeds.
Just like anything, there is some truth, some workable truth mixed in with the bullshit.
In Scientology it always YOUR fault. They are NEVER wrong! No one in Scientology ever apologizes for ANYTHING.
Any and all complaints anyone could ever have about Scientology, for any reason, are due to that persons evil crimes. Whatever bad thing happened to you in Scientology…YOU pulled it in!
So I’m there, in the dark looking at all the horrible things I’ve done, and then it occurred to me, gee, looks like you really got fucked over by that scientology shit… and it finally hit me, god, I’ve never been more manipulated in my whole life.
The idea that all the bad shit they did to me was somehow my “responsibility” finally went away.
If you ever leave Scientology, you’ll die of cancer.
I encountered this idea many times while in Scientology. It is hammered in on people, stamped in. Mind control at its greatest.
The Church of Scientology thinks of itself as the ONLY group that can actually help mankind. The ONLY group. So, if you don’t want to be in the only group that can help mankind, what does that make you????
A suppressive little dog turd!
IF you leave Scientology you will most definitely come to a very bad ending. You’ll pull in a disease, get addicted to drugs, become homeless, get arrested, become a child molester. You’ll die of cancer.
Due to the type of cancer I have the treatment included both Chemo and Radiation. After the 2 chemo sessions I started a new regime: Radiation treatment every day and Chemo once a week.
My taste was the first thing to get wonky. It was like I had 3 teaspoons of salt in my mouth all the time. Anything I tried to eat tasted like it had been smothered with salt. I vomited often. If you want to know how bad it really was, I couldn’t drink coffee! Ugh!
The effects of the radiation therapy are cumulative. The last two months of treatment are still obscured. Eating was impossible. I lost about 40 pounds. I had unlimited drugs. Morphine helped me drink water. If I took a double dose I could down a protein shake.
Drugs, pain, sleeplessness, nausea, loneliness, depression and isolation.
When I got into Scientology all I wanted to do was to become a better person and help create a better world. That’s what I’m guilty of.
The culture of Scientology, how staff members treat each other, that’s the bottom line of what the Church of Scientology REALLY is. And it’s a complete brutal night mare. Ruthless and unreasonable, these are the desired traits.
When I ran the Mission in Bellevue we turned in our statistics to the office in LA every Thursday. On Friday, if the stats were down, I was often ordered to fly to LA to get “handled”
The handling consisted of me sitting in an office and writing down any bad things I had done recently. Then I was given an e-meter check to see if I told the truth. After that I was sent to do the “Lower Conditions”
I have “done” the lower conditions a hundred times or more while on staff in the church. It was assigned as some sort of punishment and the process involved realizing that I was a scumbag, the Church of Scientology was the ONLY true group and ended with my asking forgiveness and begging to be let back into the group.
Because your stats are down, you’ve failed. You are in fact, an enemy. And we now have written proof, with all the bad shit you just wrote down… so here is the Enemy Formula, go sit somewhere and do it.
The Formula for the Condition of Enemy – Find out who you really are
The idea was that you would realize that all of your bad, lazy actions were not really YOU. That it was NOT truly in your nature to do such bad shit, and that you, the TRUE you, are a hardworking, and dedicated (ruthless and unreasonable) Scientologist who would stop at NOTHING to help clear the planet.
Of course this is just more insane cult mind control. But I have given it some thought, Who am I, really?
And I am not sure who I really am. I am still trying to answer that.
But I am very sure about who I am not.
With all the energy I can possibly muster I utterly reject all of it.
I am not a person who gains someone’s trust, betrays them and then tries to convince them that it was their own fault.
The Church of Scientology isn’t building a better world; all they’ve built is a prison camp.
I didn’t make any heroic decision, to live or survive. I honestly don’t know how I made it through. I don’t know if I should feel guilty for making it…why me? I’m just here, somehow.
I survived and cancer burned the last vestige (I hope!) of the insanity of Scientology out of me.
And for that I am eternally grateful.
Washington State is my home. Here are 4 recent images from my travels.
Panther Creek Falls, Columbia Gorge
Lime Kiln Light House, San Juan Island
Sunset from Steptoe Butte, The Palouse
Star Trails over the Methow Valley, North Cascades
Paper, Canvas and Aluminum Prints are available from my website: AndyPorterImages.com