The Emotional Aspects of Cancer

Page 3 of a Four-Part Article.

This brings us to our need to understand the emotional aspects of cancer because our emotional state has a huge impact on our immune system. Numerous studies have shown that positive thoughts and feelings enhance immune function, while negative thoughts and feelings suppress immune function.

The ironic thing about cancer is that while it is linked to the greedy, polluting, disconnected mind set of society, the cancer patient is usually the opposite. They are frequently the self-effacing martyr—the “nice” person who seldom gets angry and tries to be of service to everyone. This is not a healthy, self-empowered service, but rather a codependent, neglect of self and overindulgence of others. In this state, the emotional seeds of cancer are sown, because this person will eventually start to resent taking care of everyone else and feel their own needs are neglected. These deep-seated and often unacknowledged resentments start “eating” at them, i.e, cancer.

This is why cancer patients will often put themselves in the hands of assertive practitioners who “take control” and tell them what to do. They can be easily intimidated into complying with regimes that don't make sense because they often have a hard time deciding what is in their best interest. So, the cancer becomes the culmination of their self-martyrdom.

But I don't want to talk abstractions; I want to talk about real-life stories. So, let me share some of my experiences with you.

About 15 years ago, my best friend's wife was diagnosed with gallbladder and liver cancer and given less than a 3% chance of living past a year with conventional medical treatment. Ironically, at the same time, I met two people who had both successfully cured themselves of liver/gallbladder cancer with natural remedies. I offered to hook her up with them.

She refused.

Her reasoning was that she had to go the medical route because otherwise her family would think she had “given up” and cause her all kinds of stress. The medical doctor she saw told her that herbs and diet wouldn't help her at all and that he wouldn't treat her if she took any herbs or supplements while she was on cancer therapy. This was most unfortunate, because months later, when her digestive tract was raw and inflamed from chemotherapy, I couldn't even get her to drink a little aloe vera juice or take some slippery elm gruel to soothe her digestive tract.

The day I learned she had cancer, I could immediately see why the cancer had developed in her liver and gallbladder. I knew this woman very well. She was very nice, but never forgot or forgave an injury or injustice. She would talk about things her brothers did when she was young and her husband did when they were first married as if they had happened yesterday. I had long recognized her as being filled with unacknowledged anger and resentment.

Several months after she started therapy, she was visiting me one day and told me of a dream she had. In the dream, she was standing in front of a forest that had been devastated by a forest fire.

She told me that she could hear the sound of birds behind her and that she knew that behind her was a green forest, filled with life. She said that she knew that all she needed to do was turn around and she could walk into the beautiful, green forest, but she was so horrified by the burned out forest that she could not take her eyes off of it.

She asked me if I knew what the dream meant. I told her that I felt she concentrated too much on the cancer (on trying to “fight” the cancer) instead of focusing on life. I told her that none of us know how long we have to live, but as long as we are alive we need to focus on living. I also told her that perhaps she looked too much at the “negative” things in her life and needed to “turn around” and look at all the “positive” and good things in her life.

She wasn't able to do this, and, in fulfillment of the doctor's voodoo hex on her, she died almost exactly one year after she had been diagnosed.

I have never forgotten the lesson of her dream, and I believe that anyone who has cancer or any other serious illness in their life needs to ask themselves some important questions. (In fact, I often ask these questions of people with cancer or other serious, life-threatening illnesses.)

Question Number One is: “If God were to miraculously heal you today, what would you do differently in your life?”

Or, to put it in another way,

Why should God heal you if you're just going to continue down the same path you were on before you got sick?

I ask this because I firmly believe that we all have a life purpose and that as long as we are moving in harmony with our life purpose we can't die until our life purpose is fulfilled. However, if we are out of harmony with our life purpose, then one of the ways that gets communicated to us is that we get seriously ill. This gives us the opportunity to reevaluate our life and hopefully turn it around.

I remember hearing a talk by Dr. Bernie Siegal, author of Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with Exceptional Patients. He spoke of another doctor who had wanted to be a concert violinist, but whose family had persuaded him to be a doctor instead. He didn't like being a doctor. One day, he was diagnosed with cancer and told he had six months to live. He thought, if I've only got six months to live, I might as well spend my last six months doing what I really want to do, play the violin.

Dr. Siegal said, “That was six years ago, and he's still playing the violin.”

The cancer person needs to have the courage to do what they want with their life. None of us know how much or how little time we have left, but to engage in life, we must find a sense of purpose for ourselves—something we can do that inspires our soul.

Question Number Two leads naturally from the first question: What have you always dreamed of doing that you have never done?

This question is important because it has been demonstrated many times that cancer patients will survive longer if they have something important to live for. For example, if a son or daughter is graduating or getting married, they will live just long enough to witness this event, and will pass away a few weeks later.

So, part of affirming life for the cancer patient is starting to plan to do things they really want to do. The more they do this, the better their immune response will be. In fact, cancer patients should deliberately seek out pleasant and enjoyable experiences as much as they possibly can. These pleasant experiences will do more for their immune system than any herbs or supplements they might take.

Years ago, an NSP Manager with cancer asked me if I would do an emotional healing session with her. In the session, she recognized that every time she got away from her family and work situation, she would recover, but every time she went back to that situation, she would have a relapse. It was not hard for me to understand why as she was a very sweet lady and I had heard her husband publicly humiliate and belittle her on many occasions and she had just graciously “taken it.”

I asked her this question and she told me what was in her heart to do. She told me what she longed to do with her life but couldn't because of her family situation and the demands of her NSP and “health” business. I asked her if there was a place where she could get away from all of this and pursue what she really wanted to do. She said, “Yes.” They had a vacation home she could go live in and take care of herself and work on the things she'd always wanted to do.

She could clearly see she was at a crossroad in her life. Either she had to have the courage to leave her situation and take care of herself and move forward on what she perceived was her “life mission,” or to remain in her current situation and martyr herself and die. All I said was, “I guess you have a choice to make, don't you?”

She replied, “Yes, I do.”

One month later, when I heard she had passed away, I remember thinking, “She made her choice.”

Question Number Three takes us down a little different line: “Is there anyone or anything I resent in my life?

Or, Has anyone wronged me' in my life?

The point here is to access the self-martyring, resentful energy that is often at the heart of the cancer. The person needs to identify people who they feel they have “sacrificed for” or have been “victimized by” and forgive them.

Years ago, I ran into the daughter of my first herb teacher, Edward Milo Millet. I have always honored Ed as my teacher and mentor, and acknowledged him as the creator of the body system's approach and the ABC+D approach. However, Ed was upset with me when I wrote the ABC Herbal because he felt that I had “stolen” his ideas. I felt very hurt by this, as I had created my own original interpretation and work on these ideas, and had acknowledged him as my teacher, but he didn't see it that way.

His resentment originated with the fact that he was the ghost writer for The School of Natural Healing by John Christopher. He had thought that he was going to be listed as co-author, but he wasn't even mentioned in the book. He had sued Dr. Christopher over the issue. I don't know the whole story, but I knew that Ed was a nice guy, and that he deeply resented what had happened between Dr. Christopher and himself.

Well, his daughter told me that Ed had gotten prostate cancer and had recently passed away. She said that she wanted me to know that her father had died a peaceful man, because about one week before he passed away he came to the realization that his cancer had been caused by the resentment he held towards Dr. Christopher. She said he had forgiven Dr. Christopher and had also acknowledged that I had done him no wrong.

I was happy that Ed had been “healed” before he passed away. If that statement seems strange, I mean it exactly as I said it because I regard emotional and energetic healing to be more important than the healing of the physical body.

I don't know where I heard it, but I remember someone telling me of a similar story with a different ending. It was about a man who had been diagnosed with cancer and told he had a very short time to live. He had run away from his abusive father when he was 16, had hated him his whole life and refused to see or talk with him.

He decided that before he passed away, he would make peace with his father and traveled a long way to show up on his doorstep. He asked his father for forgiveness for being a rebellious son, and for not communicating with him all those years. His father started to cry and asked the son for forgiveness for being so harsh on him. They fell into each others' arms and wept. One week later, the man had no cancer in his body.

The bottom line is that if these underlying emotional issues aren't dealt with, it can be very difficult for people to heal from cancer.  In the last part of this article I provide some specific tips for dealing with cancer patients.

Click here to go to page 4.