This site is dedicated to Eve with breast cancer. However the recommendations how to handle cancer apply to any cancer and to any disease. Our narrative begins when Eve discovers a small hardening in her breast. She then visits an oncologist, undergoes a series of treatments, and when treatments end she is told that she is cured.
Unfortunately most patients are not cured and cancer flares up again. Nevertheless medicine maintains that cancer is curable. How come and where is the catch? Breast cancer is a chronic disease extending over decades. 24% of patients with a tumor in their breast and axillary nodes (regional cancer), live at least 20 years whereupon cancer flares up again. Medicine on the other hand, declares patients alive ten years after diagnosis as cured.
What intrigued me is that in some patients cancer flares up soon, while other live with cancer in peace for years. What is their secret and how might it be applied to other patients? This secret is linked with the way our organism handles diseases.
Self healing diseases
Many diseases like common cold or a flu are self healing and we wonder under which circumstances might cancer be also self healing? Such an idea seems strange since cancer is perceived as a fatal disease, nevertheless even cancer may be self healing. How come?
While the flu generally heals by itself, for some weak and elderly people it may be deadly. Although their organism mobilizes its defenses against the virus, since it is weak it fails. The outcome of flu depends not only on the invading virus, but also on the available resources of the organism. If strengthened, it will resist the flu better, and vice versa.
Strengthening the organism
There are two ways to strengthen a weak organism. Feed it, and train it. While the first is obvious, how to train the organism to resist a flu? Immunization is such a training. You train the organism to handle weakened viruses, and it learns how to resist strong ones. Exercise is another way to strengthen the organism so that it will handle viruses more efficiently. This example illustrates that a disease has two components:
driver, or agent, like the virus.
2.The resources of the organism.
Is the first question asked by a patient who got cancer? Here is an example: Take a group of healthy males and ask them to lift a 50kg sack. Some will do it while others will not, since lacking resources (muscle). The conclusion is obvious. By training they will gradually accumulate resources and finally lift the sack.
It is the same with childhood diseases which hit an unprepared organism. During the illness organism mobilizes resources to resist the disease which will last until the end of its life.
Some patients confronted with cancer are unprepared. During their disease the organism mobilizes resources to resist cancer better and better. In addition they may train themselves “to lift the sack,” which is what this site is about.
1. Slow down disease
2. Halt disease progression.
3. Induce disease waning.
As training intensifies more advanced goals can be achieved.
slow down aging?
Suppose that your disease is incurable, wouldn't you settle for less than a cure? Like halting its progression? A similar prospect awaits all of us. Although healthy aging is not regarded as a disease, it is incurable. The aging driver continually rises and cannot be stopped. Nevertheless we may slow down aging by tilting the balance in our favor. Joining a fitness club might help, as explained in another chapter in this site. We might want to attain one of the following goals, yet only the first is feasible:
1. Slow down aging.
2. Halt aging.
3. Induce the waning of aging, or rejuvenation.
4. Cure, which means immortality.
While in aging only the first goal is achievable, in cancer all four goals can be realized provided that your organism has sufficient reserves and is adequately trained.
I was fortunate to meet patients who succeeded realizing the first three goals. Although their cancer was incurable they lived in good health. As a token of my appreciation and admiration to these patients I decided to call them Cancer-Yogis. Cancer-Yogi is a metaphor for their capability to live with cancer in peace and good health. It alludes to the spiritual powers of the Hindu Yogi who controls involuntary functions of his body. Otherwise this metaphor is unrelated with Yoga.
The blind spot of medicine
Eve’s mission is to train herself to live with cancer in peace and eventually to cure it. Her mission is to become a Cancer-Yogi, which means, to start a new life which is devoted to tilt the balance between cancer and organism in her favor. In order to learn how to proceed with her new plan she turns to her physician for advice, and is surprised to find out that he cannot help her. He looks at her with pity: “Train your organism to live with cancer in peace? Who told you this nonsense?”
For medicine the possibility that organism and disease maintain a balance is inconceivable. It maintains that cancer encroaches upon a passive host and resistance against cancer is unthinkable. Why then do some patients survive longer than other? Since their cancer is more benign, is the usual answer. Medicine belittles the role of the organism in a disease. The outcome of a flu depends on virus virulence and the patient's reserves. Feeding and training him improves his prospect. The same applies to cancer.
You got only three months to live
I was particularly intrigued by patients who were told by their doctor that they were facing death, and despite his grave prognosis continued living for years. Why did he err? And what was their secret? The doctor got it wrong since basing prognosis only on one cancer component, the tumor. Yet cancer is more than that. Cancer is a balance between organism’s resources and tumor. Despite their widespread cancer these patients had sufficient resources to live with cancer in peace. Their secret is also your secret. It is an inborn asset of your organism which awaited all these years to realize itself. Now that you got cancer its time has come. It waits to be harnessed for your benefit.
Your inborn assets are called instincts. Like the language instinct which enables you to speak. Although the newborn has a language instinct it has to learn how to apply it. When it grows up a little it realizes that its parents speak and imitates them. Which it achieves with the imitation, or empathy instinct. The two instincts assist it to learn speaking by itself. By imitation the baby learns also standing up, walking and other faculties which make it independent.
The self healing instinct lies dormant in your organism and is activated only during disease, here cancer. For several years it effectively controlled cancer. However since cancer driver continually intensifies, the balance is tilted in its favor, the tumor grows and cancer is diagnosed. Cancer thus proceeds through two phases:
1. Pre-clinical, when tumor is controlled effectively by the self healing instinct and is too small to be detected.
2. Clinical phase, which starts with a small hardening in Eve’s breast. At this stage the self healing instinct is incapable to cope with the rising cancer driver.
The first important medical discovery in our history was made by a Shaman who learned how to stimulate self healing processes during healing. In his honor the self healing instinct is called here Shamanic instinct. It is discussed in a separate chapter in this site.
Wisdom of the Body (WOB)
Instincts and other inborn faculties of the newborn are called here metaphorically Wisdom of the Body, or WOB. All that the newborn is capable of doing is inborn, unconscious, and controlled by WOB. At birth, WOB has many potential faculties which will be manifested later in life, like standing, walking and talking. Although WOB repertory is meager, it will expand as the baby grows.
In order to save resources WOB refrains from activating faculties which are not needed. As long as the baby lies in bed WOB will not strengthen its standing and walking muscles. Only when the baby decides to stand up WOB will strengthen them. The imitation and empathy instinct instruct the baby what it needs and what it should want. It imitates its standing parents and makes many efforts to stand up until WOB strengthen its muscles for this task. Its on going efforts signal WOB that it wants to stand up.
Communication with WOB
In order to save resources WOB does not activate healing processes in a healthy individual. They are activated only when cancer starts. During pre-clinical phase WOB effectively controls cancer, however when cancer driver intensifies WOB has no impulse to strengthen itself. Only your will can urge it to strengthen itself. It’s like with weight lifting. One day you decide to become a weight lifter. Initially your performance is poor since WOB is not prepared to support your will. As you train WOB builds up your muscle mass until you succeed. Your will made WOB to strengthen itself. How then to make WOB to boost its healing in cancer? Three instincts do the job: Imagination, imitation, and shamanism.
In order to clarify what is meant let’s illustrate what happens when you decide to play a piano. WOB has all the faculties to let you play, however they have to be activated.
Your task is to interact with the keyboard, the rest is left to the instrument. When you decide to hit the C key, you first imagine its location which is your message to WOB to move your arm and finger toward the key. Arm and finger movement is carried out unconsciously by WOB. You only sense the changing position of your arm but are unaware how it is achieved. When the task is accomplished you hear the piano sound. Let’s summarize the sequence of events:
for a certain action.
2. Imagining the task, which is a signal to WOB what you want.
3. WOB implementation which is unconscious.
4. Conscious sensation of arm movement.
5. Hearing the piano sound indicating that the task is accomplished.
WOB to WOB communication
As you train WOB refines your finger coordination and sound quality improves. Encouraged by your progress you decide to become a soloist and turn to a renown piano teacher. Her task is to convey to you the secret of a maestro. Explaining is not enough and she demonstrates to you what is needed. When playing she communicates to you her unconscious skills which were mastered by her WOB. It is a non-verbal message which you attempt to grasp by imitating her.
She plays a piece
and you repeat it so often until she feels that you got the idea. Her feedback
is crucial since only she can judge your progress. Let’s summarize the new
sequence of events:
1. Will to play a piano piece.
2. Imagining the first finger movement.
3. Unconscious and automatic playing by WOB.
4. No conscious sensation of finger positions. These sensations are blocked.
5. Imitating the teacher’s performance.
6. Hearing the music and comparing it with the music of the teacher.
7. Any discrepancy is transmitted to WOB by imagining the correct finger positioning.
WOB is your keyboard and you want to press it to cure your cancer. You proceed like the piano player:
1. Will to be cured.
2. You signal WOB your will by imagining it. . .
Here you get stuck, since you do not know what to imagine in order to “play cancer.”
At this point you might profit from meditation.
You learn to focus your mind on a particular image or on your breathing. In
your mind you may direct your breath to the hardening in your breast and imagine
it shrinking. We are concerned here mainly with the therapeutic effect
of meditation and less with its theological background. You might try Vipassana
which is primarily a meditation on physical sensations of the body.
“Meditation for Dummies” - by Stephan Bodian might be a good starter.
However reading is not enough. You need a Guru, or a good
teacher, since teaching meditation requires a communication from his
WOB to yours. It is a non-verbal unconscious communication.
Cancer support groups
Try to find a Cancer-Yogi who applies meditation to her cancer. You might find her in a cancer support group which ought to be your first place to visit after being told that you have cancer. Such a visit might be somewhat unpleasant particularly if the group is in a gloomy mood. Don't stop there, and look for another one with an optimistic flavor. An ideal group would consist of cancer-yogis who meet in order to exchange information about “cancer playing.” There you meet a breast cancer yogi and start learning from her experience.
Being a novice you apply your imitation instinct in order to draw on her secrets. She undertakes the role of the piano teacher whose performance is her life style. Instinctively you acquire her method to live with cancer in harmony. She plays a piece and you repeat it intuitively so often until she feels that you got the idea. Her feedback is crucial since only she can judge your progress.
The group meets also in order to heal itself. They apply their shamanic instincts to heal each other. In a silent ceremony the yogis sit in a circle and embrace each other with a healing love and empathy. Amidst them Eve feels secure and may now embark upon the thorny path of oncological treatments.
Master and Apprentice
In the story above you met four masters: A piano teacher, a guru, a shaman and a cancer-yogi. Although they knew that they were experts, they could not articulate their wisdom verbally. Their wisdom is an integral part of the wisdom of their body (WOB), and is utterly unconscious. It can be communicated only non-verbally from WOB to WOB. The methods vary. By example, by imitation, intuitively, instinctively or by a shamanic ritual. They shape the relationship between master and apprentice whose intricacy is described in an exquisite book by Eugen Herrigel “Zen in the Art of Archery” Pantheon Books/Random House, N.Y. 1981)
There is no essential difference between cancer healing and piano playing. They differ only in their flavor. A cancer-yogi knows best how to play cancer. This short list of masters leaves out the modern physician. A rational expert who ignores WOB altogether. His barren WOB has little to offer non-verbally. Modern medicine rejects this vital dimension of life, which is the cause of its conceptual crisis. It is discussed in my introduction to “A New Kind of Medicine” in this site.
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