The longer I have lived with cancer (25 years now), the more I believe that the focus on healing needs to be on the internal terrain in which the cancer exists rather than on the tumor. Traditional Chinese medicine has historically taught that cancer is a systemic disease; the tumor is just a symptom of it and you have to alter the underlying constitution in order to heal the disease.
Dwight McKee, MD, an integrative oncologist, wrote, “The new view is that early cancers may spontaneously regress, established cancers may remain dormant. Changing the terrain, the internal micro-environment, may prevent progression and contribute to regression.” Among the things he mentions that help create a terrain not conducive to the growth of cancer are changing diets, taking herbs and supplements, exercising, and actively practicing relaxation.
He says “I think it’s better for patients not to participate in a ‘battle with cancer’ psychologically.” You create in your life what you focus on. Don’t focus on fighting cancer. Focus on creating health. We should do whatever we can to build confidence and reduce fear. The terrain has a big effect on outcome and the major part of shifting terrain rests with the patient.
For the past twenty years the Cancer as a Turning Point, From Surviving to Thriving™ conferences have focused on what we as patients can do to create our health — on healing rather than curing. One of the potent strategies we have included in most of our conferences is Guided Imagery. It is an effective strategy for relaxation, reducing stress, building confidence, reducing fear, and much more.
Because there is such a strong correlation between stress and cancer, Dr. McKee thinks the first month following a cancer diagnosis, before starting treatment, should be focused on learning stress reduction. For me that first month is long gone, but I still take seriously the importance he places on learning to relax.
It feels fitting that our Twenty year celebration (September 5th) will provide information about, and an experience of, Guided Imagery. Emmett Miller, MD, father of the Guided Imagery CD, and the velvet voice that I have been listening to for 30 years, will be joined by musicians Susan Mazer and Dallas Smith to create an experience of renewal and healing for us.
Because I believe this is such an integral part of any healing journey, we are also including a brief introduction to Guided Imagery in our Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishment for Life workshop in Seattle on July 12th. Dr. Miller, Susan, and Dallas, have created a 15 minute Guided Imagery that we will experience in the workshop, and will make available to the participants to repeat at home.
I have been living with cancer for 25 years, and I’m still thriving. It’s not possible to know what has kept me alive, but I do know that the two things I have used most consistently to increase my health are Guided Imagery and health-promoting nutrition.
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In the Spirit of Healing,
MSW Founder and Executive Director