Last night I was once again bushed.. in fact so sleepy I went to bed at 8.30pm! Today once again I started off full of energy but by about 11am I am really flagging. I am hoping it is my body getting used to being back rather than the chemo having an affect.
I received a really interesting link from my friend Lucy yesterday regarding an article in the paper about how a virus is being used to combat cancer. Here is it; http://www.guardian.co.uk/
It seems that a lot of info is coming about how viruses and other naturally occurring things can actually combat canSer. I’m sure there are so many different ways but I so have everything crossed that if the advertising campaign cancer research UK are showing at the moment is right, a cure isn’t far away? Who knows….
All I know that is a as long as I keep listening and researching it’s going in the right direction. I have to focus on living and as mentioned previously I have to keep my mind focussed. This for me is my sticking point. Yesterday Pete suggested making my visualation by drawing the canSer in my lungs and lymph on the ipad then putting it in reverse so that I can visually see it disappearing. great idea. I did that and I think that helps. I really find it hard being very vivid in my mind. I don’t know what other people are like but I guess I expect it to be really real and clear but it isn’t. So I decided to buy some more books! (I have never read so much! Who needs Fifty Shades of Grey eh?) I want to really read stories of success and hope and ways of improving my mind and visualisations. now I am not suggesting that alone could cure me of canSer but it would make my life have some sort of control and feelings of achievement and calm. I need that. Anyone with canSer needs that. I have bought another one of Dr Bernie Siegels and also a guided meditation and visualisation cd. The more input I have the better I feel.
I like getting all the news on new discoveries but it’s so hard to get in touch with peopel to see if it’s something I can do. We really are being held by the NHS and what we are being fed. This is not negative as I do really believe they have there place. Let’s face it we need all the help we can get right?!
I received a letter finally yesterday in reply to my informal complainat from my visit last month to Prof Harris. it was very amicable and every point was covered but there really is no resolve to it. I have the choice to move to another oncologists clinic but what would the point be? prof Harris mentions that he feels I am being very courageous and he supports me in every decision I make. Any way if nothing else at least he is aware of how I feel. It’s better than bottling it up.
I have been reading some info on Biofeedback training and The Simontons.
How the mind can heal the body: One of the most dramatic applications of imagery in coping with illness is the work of Dr. Carl Simonton, a radiation cancer specialist in Dallas, Texas. “By combining relaxation with personalized images,” reports OMNI magazine, “he has helped terminal cancer patients reduce the size of their tumours and sometimes experience complete remission of the disease.”
Many of his patients have benefited from this technique. It simply shows how positive visualization can help alleviate – if not totally cure – various diseases including systemic lupus erythomatosus, migraine, chronic back pain, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, hyper-acidity, etc.
In biofeedback training, an individual is hooked up to a device that feeds back information on his physiological processes. A patient with tachycardia, an irregular heartbeat, might be hooked up to an oscilloscope, which will give a constant visual readout of the heartbeat. The patient watches the monitor while attempting to relax…when he succeeds in slowing his heartbeat through his thinking, he is rewarded immediately by seeing that fact on visual display.
The surveillance theory holds that the immune system does in fact produce ‘killer cells’ which seek out and destroy stray cancer cells many times in our lives, and it is when this system breaks down, that the disease can take hold. When most patients are diagnosed with cancer, surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy are used to destroy as much of the tumour as possible. But once the cancer is reduced, we wondered if the immune system could be reactivated to seek out and destroy the remaining cancer cells.
Here’s a section that I have just been reading…
Much of the early work in visualisation was carried out by Carl and Stephanie Simonton. According to their best-selling book Getting Well Again, Carl Simonton noticed that some cancer patients survived because they had a will to live. The Simonton’s began adapting visualisation techniques learned in Silva Mind Control by Stephanie Simonton to treating cancer and other diseases in 1971.
One of their first patients, a man with advanced throat cancer, had a vivid imagination, and Dr. Simonton asked him to visualize the radiation therapy killing the weak cancer cells while his white blood cells carried them off. The man’s cancer disappeared, and he went on to use visualization to clear up his arthritis and a longstanding problem with impotence.
The Simonton’s developed a therapeutic approach based on using visualisation to mobilize the body’s defences. They definitely saw their approach as being used in conjunction with traditional surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The first problem they address is the negative mind-set that many cancer patients have. The Simonton’s also identify and work with the same depression and unfulfilled lives in their patients that LeShan discusses.
The social attitudes toward cancer are strongly negative. People tend to assume that cancer is a death sentence, is uncontrollable, strikes from without, and requires drastic medical treatment, which is usually ineffective and has many unpleasant side effects. The Simonton’s teach their patients that cancer is a disease that is not always fatal, that the body has defences against the disease, and that medical treatment can be an important ally in the body’s attempt to fight against the disease.
The Six-Week Program
In Getting Well Again the Simonton’s recommend a specific six-week program for cancer patients. The program begins with reading to change negative attitudes, using books such as The Will to Live and Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer, which promote a positive attitude toward our power to control disease. The patient begins relaxation and visualization sessions three times a day. The patient is to identify stresses in life prior to developing cancer and examine the “benefits” of illness.
Cancer often solves problems for people, such as leaving a difficult relationship or job. It may be a very difficult way of handling a problem, but it works. Of course, the aim is to find less damaging ways of handling such problems. The Simonton’s also recommend a program of one hour of exercise three times a week, appropriate to the patient’s physical condition. The patient should get a counsellor and deal with facing death and fears that the cancer will recur. Toward the end of the program participants are encouraged to set goals and find a source of inner guidance.
Setting goals is an important part of the recovery process because it makes the person assume there is a life to be lived. Just setting a goal is a visualization process that includes seeing yourself living in the future and achieving that goal. It gives a person something to live for.
Bernie Siegel and Imagery
Dr. Bernie Siegel is one of the most effective popularizers of the Simonton’s’ work. Through books such as Peace, Love and Healing and Love, Medicine and Miracles he has made a profound impact on the lives of thousands of patients, especially those with cancer and AIDS. As he sees it, his job as a physician is “not only to find the right treatment but to help the patient find an inner reason for living, resolve conflicts, and free healing energy.” (18)
Dr. Siegel combines psychological and visualization techniques. He calls his process personality reprogramming, and he is definitely eclectic in his approach. Use whatever works, be it analysis, imagery, or positive thinking. What stands out in his approach is the acceptance of the uniqueness of the individual and the meaning of the individual life. Commenting on his approach, he says, “The only thing I would lay claim to on my behalf is the ability to inspire hope in people.” (19)
In 1978 he founded a widely known support-group program called Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECaP) to provide “a loving, safe, therapeutic confrontation, which facilitates personal change and healing.” (19) The program is based on the observation that there are “exceptional patients” who unexpectedly recover from cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
ECaP groups are designed to awaken the healing potential of patients through exploration of dreams, drawing, and imagery. The program emphasizes that it is offered in addition to traditional medical care and does not offer any medical advice. There is a loosely structured association of support groups around the country based on the original ECaP program, but there is only one ECaP center, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Siegel sees diseases such as cancer and AIDS as a gift, an opportunity to discover the meaning, love, and joy in life. To him, “Cancer, death or loss are not the issue but love and healing are and we finally see that in the pain lies the opportunity to love and care even more.” (19)
To evaluate a patient’s emotions and attitudes, he asks four questions:
- Do you want to live to be a hundred?
- What happened to you in the year or two before your illness?
- What does the illness mean to you?
- Why did you need the illness? (18)
He is looking for the patient’s level of motivation, emotional experience as the disease developed, and the function of the illness in a patient’s life. He then has the patient draw a picture. The picture is usually a self-portrait or a representation of the patient through symbols. For example, if the patient draws himself as a small figure surrounded by angry animals and storm clouds above, the prognosis at that point would not be good. Siegel would then work with the patient’s self-images and appreciation for life to produce a stronger sense of self, resolve conflicts, and develop a positive purpose for living.
To those who are caught up in the misery and awfulness of life, people like Bernie Siegel seem absurdly optimistic. To those who choose life, he is not offering false hopes but the real hope of enjoying and experiencing the wonder of the life we have right now. If, as some solid studies suggest, cancer is caused in part by depression and repression, there can be no loss in adopting hope and happiness.
We see in the work of the Simontons and Dr. Siegel the application of several of the principles derived from research on the effects of psychological intervention in cancer. The Simontons and Siegel work to increase the patient’s sense of control over the situation. The emphasis is on present activity and anticipation of the future. The patients are encouraged to develop a positive, even joyful outlook. They are taught to express their emotions, especially anger, so that they can develop the ability to fight against the cancer. As they recover, they are encouraged to develop a sense of purpose and future-oriented goals. All these elements appear to be effective behavioral and emotional approaches to coping with and overcoming cancer.
Meditation and Cancer
Meditation has been used in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and intestinal problems, as well as cancer. Lawrence LeShan points out that the techniques for meditation, whether developed in India 2,500 years ago or in medieval monasteries, bear many similarities. (7)
Meditation begins by clearing ordinary concerns from the mind and focusing on a particular mental task. LeShan distinguishes four different types of meditation in common use:
- Listening to a tape recording designed to induce a relaxed state
- Repeating a phrase (a mantra) over and over in the mind as the patient relaxes
- Visualizing changes in the body or in images representing problems
- Focusing the mind on a single task, such as simply counting the number of breaths one takes
In 1988 Christopher Magarey in the Medical Journal of Australia reported that he has been conducting meditation classes for cancer patients and others for five years. He found that meditation improved their overall health, sleep, relationships, and attitudes toward death, while it gave them a sense of meaning and purpose in life. He states, “Meditation has led some to report a new sense of truth in their lives, a reality beyond death which dissolved their fears.” (9)
Meditation is surprisingly popular as a treatment for cancer in Australia. You Can Conquer Cancer by lan Gawler, which recommends a combination of meditation, natural foods, and exercise to treat cancer (3), was a bestseller in that country.
Ainslie Meares, an M.D. with a practice in Melbourne, promotes the use of a special form of intensive meditation as a possible cure for cancer. Since stress leads to the release of cortisone, which inhibits the immune system, he contends that meditation reduces anxiety, lowers cortisone levels, and improves immune functioning. (14)
An excerpt from the book : “ALTERNATIVES IN CANCER THERAPY” by Ross, R.Ph. Pelton,
Now I am a believer and I think that anything that benefits a person on any level but mostly to be calm and happy then this is definitely the way forward and if it cures canSer in some people then bring it on baby! People must think I am mad but I don’t think believing what the doctors say is necessarily the right thing to do. Everyone is different but we are mostly the same, when we want to have a good quality of life whilst we are alive and kicking. It’s all really interesting stuff eh?
Had acupuncture today and was told that my energy is feeling good. That’s what I like to hear. Today I was mostly ‘balanced’. I think my friends and family would argue with that! ha ha!
Looking forward to the weekend. Time to chill. No alcohol for us. January has always been a month where we get ourselves all ‘clean and clear’. I’m loving being back on my diet again…. Tonight we are cooking Thai vegan food. MMM…