I was disappointed in the recent Ken Burns movie, Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies. There was some interesting information, but the emphasis on finding drugs to treat cancer was the disappointing aspect. There was only a small mention of prevention, focusing on smoking and obesity. There was no mention of how the stressful lives we lead could be contributing to the increased rate of cancer.

There was also no mention of the many people who have recovered from cancer without using drugs. The industry calls them spontaneous remissions. Kelly Turner, PhD, has researched and analyzed the cases of over 1,500 people who have had a verifiable cancer diagnosis and have recovered, not because of Western medical treatment. Dr. Turner no longer uses the term “spontaneous” remission because she says there was nothing spontaneous about it. These people did a lot that led to their recovery. She is calling these Radical Remissions and has written a book about it, Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.

She identified nine strategies that almost every person mentioned doing in order to help heal their cancer. These people became cancer-free against all odds. The nine factors are: Radically changing your diet; Taking control of your health; Following your intuition; Using herbs and supplements; Releasing suppressed emotions; Increasing positive emotions; Embracing social support; Deepening your spiritual connection; and Having strong reasons for living.

It’s fascinating to me that only two of these are physical, yet the only treatments the Medical world acknowledges are physical treatments of the body. It seems like they don’t yet realize that we are body-mind-spirit all rolled into one. Using drugs may temporarily stop the cancer, but it doesn’t address the cause, so the remission is often short-lived. Effective treatment has to include the whole person.

Implementing the nine factors into my own life implies that I believe I can have an influence on the growth of my cancer. For me to believe that, I have to believe that I also influenced its beginning. If I had nothing to do with its beginning, I feel powerless to affect it now. It is empowering to me to know that I can do something that affects the growth of my cancer. These people who have experienced radical remissions have demonstrated that possibility to me.

Knowing that my actions and beliefs may have influenced the growth of cancer doesn’t mean I am guilty of “causing” it. For the many people who smoked before we knew it caused cancer, are they guilty of causing their cancer? They were ignorant of the consequences of their behavior. When I was eating sugar and margarine as a kid, I was ignorant of the consequences of my behavior. I don’t think it’s useful for us to feel guilty about behaviors and/or beliefs when we were ignorant of their consequences.

On the other hand, it does feel useful to acknowledge responsibility when I learn the consequences of past behavior. It means I can change it. I am empowered to make a difference in my future.

Dr. Kelly Turner is offering a two-day workshop for Healing Journeys — Radical Remission: Implementing the 9 Healing Factors into Your Own Life, July 24 25, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her goal is that we leave the workshop empowered with tools we can start using right away to promote our own healing. I’m excited about this opportunity to accomplish the Healing Journeys mission: to support healing, activate hope, and promote thriving.

As always, I welcome your comments; to reply please click here.

In the Spirit of Healing,

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Jan Adrian, MSW
Founder and Executive Director