I went to the Integrated Health Conference in San Diego at the end of March and heard many inspiring speakers. Some of them were people who had healed from cancer using various natural methods, including emotional and spiritual interventions. I heard one cancer survivor say it was necessary for him to have some ideas about what caused his cancer before he could heal it. He said he actually thought of cancer as the “cure.” The “disease” was all the toxins that he needed to eliminate in his life. Cancer brought them to his attention so he could do something about it.

He said he only felt empowered to heal his cancer, if he believed he had a part in causing it. I’ve had this thought before and it was refreshing to hear someone say it from the stage in a way that wasn’t blaming, and didn’t lead to any guilt. Just responsibility and opportunity.

I feel like an internal shift happened in me as a result of listening to the speakers and being immersed in such optimistic, empowering energy for three days. I understand at a new level that cancer is not something that attacked me from the outside. The cancer cells are part of me, and they don’t want to kill me; killing me would be killing themselves. They love me, but have lost control temporarily. I don’t have to fight them. I want to help them gain control and be the healthy functioning cells that they want to be.

The metaphor of an alcoholic is useful to me. An alcoholic doesn’t want to drink out of control, and at the deepest level, wants help to control the urge to drink. My cancer cells, at the deepest level, want help to control the urge to keep dividing.

Cancer has been useful to me for the past 25 years. It has led me to a satisfying, rewarding career for the past 20 years. It has kept me eating a healthy diet, exercising, deepening my spiritual life, finding more joy, and learning to express negative emotions. It has pushed me into living life more fully than I think I would have without it.

I am planning to work with a cancer coach, Dr. Matt Kreinheder, who was one of the speakers at the San Diego conference. Our focus will be on becoming more skillful in integrating emotions on a daily basis, harvesting the gifts of cancer, and creating strategies to keep living life fully without cancer motivating me. In other words, do I still need it?  I’ve had one session with him, and plan on four more after I’ve read the book he assigned, The Twelve Stages of Healing, by Donald Epstein.