Cancer Wellness & Recovery Blog

This blog shares various posts and articles on “cancer wellness & trauma recovery coaching” to inspire both patients and caregivers to feel supported, hopeful and empowered. Support is paramount for both healing and quality of life during treatment.

Psychosomatic Illness

What You Must Know About Psychosomatic Illness?

The term psychosomatic is often misunderstood. If we say someone has a psychosomatic illness it is easy to assume that we mean the condition is all in a person’s ‘mind’ – a figment of the imagination – unreal. This is not the meaning I attach to the concept of psychosomatic illness. I believe that many illnesses have their origin in a particular subconscious process; in other words that certain emotional patterns and psychological factors may contribute to the appearance of a physical condition in the body. For example if I were to suggest to you to imagine eating a food that you dislike intensely – and I mean really imagine it vividly – thinking about the smell or texture of that food, or whatever it is that puts you off the most, you are likely to feel physically nauseous. Such is the power of thought and I present this view in my book The New Cancer Paradigm. In a nutshell, a metal patterns or even a thought process can lead to a physical experience in the body. Author Marilyn Hunter says that “it is impossible for us to be sick or injured and not have an emotional response to that, it is also impossible to be emotionally distressed or overjoyed and the body not respond to that.” Basically what I am saying is, that if something is psychosomatic it simply means that the body and the mind are connected – that the body and mind are a complete integrated system. One does not exist without the other. If the mind is affected then the body will be too and vice versa – mind and body cannot be separated. Therefore virtually everything that we experience has a psychosomatic definition. When considering the psychosomatic origin of chronic illnesses or cancer – surely we have to open our minds to the possibility that certain emotional or psychological factors have promoted the presence of these conditions within the body? It is important to point out that this is not about attaching blame to illness. I am not saying that anyone who has a chronic disease or illness has ‘given’ himself or herself that illness by being negative. It is more likely that a mental reaction to a stressful situation has perhaps changed the chemistry of the body in some way or suppressed immune function thus allowing disease to become present. The field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) supports this theory. PNI is the study of the interaction between the nervous and immune systems and psychological thought processes. PNI has its’ origins in France in the 1800s but was advanced and developed in the mid 1970s by Dr Robert Ader at the University of Rochester. In relation to psychosomatic disease PNI acknowledges that illness is very real and definitely experienced. However because an organic origin cannot be found PNI assumes that psychological factors, emotional patterns and a certain state of mind must be responsible for the appearance of the physical illness. So if you are told you are suffering from a psychosomatic disorder at least explore the possibility that the person is referring to the relationship between your mind and your body, and the role that the mind plays in any physical experience we suffer from. Many medical professionals do take an interest in the field of PNI and accept that the mind can contribute to illness. They are now taking their interest further and looking into how much the mind plays a part in illness. The question, it seems, is no longer whether the mind plays a part in illness but more like “can we harness this capacity of the mind to reverse the process of illness and heal the body from chronic illness and cancer?” Hopefully, Psychosomatic Medicine or PNI may provide us with the answer to this question very soon. Continue Reading What You Must Know About Psychosomatic Illness?

Hope and False Hope

Cancer, Hope and False Hope?

My belief is that hope is absolutely vital when considering the healing process, yet, it is important to establish that hope is not the same thing as positive thinking. I do not suggest that anyone who is facing the challenges of cancer or other chronic illness merely tries to think in a more positive way and that all will be well. Hope The opposite of hope is hopelessness and hopelessness is a state of mind in which a person feels like nothing more can be done – they give up. Hope promotes activity, so if you feel hopeful you are more inclined to take action. An active state of being can boost and promote the efficient function of your immune system. And when you have a stronger immune system your body is better equipped to defend itself and fight any condition of ill health. There are two powerful negative expectations that surround cancer and they are: 1. Cancer = Death 2. Cancer = Strikes randomly and is beyond your control These are outdated statements which are no longer true. Advancement in medicine and technology as well as non medical practices such as hypnosis for cancer as prescribed in Immersive Healing ensure more people overcome the cancer today than ever before. This is not to say that everyone win this battle or that it’s easy to do so, just to state and acknowledge the progress we’ve made and that hope is empowering and vital component in the healing process. Having said that, I want to emphasize that it’s not a simple matter of saying to a client “be hopeful and you’ll get well”. Rather to understand that if a person has hope in their life, feel hopeful and empowered, they will find themselves in a better position to heal. False Hope Some medical professional would argue that using complimentary alternative therapies in cancer treatment only give people false hope. As mentioned in my book The New Cancer Paradigm my answer to that is that false hope only exists when one guarantees an unrealistic treatment outcome. My whisper to you is to avoid at all costs those practitioners who claim they can cure an illness. Instead, look for those practitioners who advocates reasonable hope – this is very different to false hope. Reasonable hope is logical, after all the medical profession cannot guarantee that their approach will work either. None of us in any of the healing professions have all the answers. False Hopelessness In his book Healing Psyche, Rob van Overbruggen discusses the possibility of false hopelessness. False hopelessness occurs when someone is told that their illness is untreatable and that nothing more can be done for them. Many people store so much faith in the medical profession that this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The simple truth is that no one really knows who will heal and why they heal, but the fact is that some people do. Hope and your ability to heal All my clients know that I make no guarantees – my approach to healing may or may not be enough. I do believe wholeheartedly that I can help a person with cancer or chronic illness takes control and ownership of their health. The human body and spirit are more powerful than anyone at this time can fully understand. I aim to tap into this potential for the body to heal and help people move forwards into a state of mind that promotes reasonable hope and may facilitate the healing process. The alternative to reasonable hope is false hopelessness – the idea that people should just give up. Hope is a part of the human psyche. A life without hope is not realistic it is pessimistic – hope offers us a full, rich and more active way to experience life. Continue Reading Cancer, Hope and False Hope?

complementary alternative medicine cancer

Benefits of Complementary Alternative Medicine for Cancer

Cancer patients can benefit tremendously from a realistic and multidisciplinary approach to healing cancer or any other chronic illness for that matter. This is why it is essential that Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners will be open to and committed to working alongside with the researchers, scientists and doctors. Conventional cancer treatments, despite their high cost to patient’s quality of life (both physically and emotionally) do save many many lives and that’s the bottom line. This may explain why most doctors would not offer their patients any valid alternative. This is a missed opportunity because about 73% of patients will seek some alternatives therapy to supplement their medical treatment. Why is it a missed opportunity? because patients are left to figure things on their own and may end up wasting valuable resources in the wrong places, not to mention precious time. So much has been written about the physical side effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment. These are well documented and anyone who’s been through this medical process need no further evidence. It would have been to the benefit of the patient if their medical team would be able to guide them to some extent and teach them about their options. Complimentary alternative Cancer treatment In a general way, CAM practitioners view the cancer tumor as only a part of the problem, a symptom of something that runs far deeper. For the most part, CAM practices aim is to heal the whole person not just one part of the person; this way health and wellness may be restored. I could probably quote here a whole range of statistics showing the harmful impact of conventional treatment such as chemotherapy on the body. Likewise I could find a bunch of statistics showing that CAM is not a viable treatment for healing cancer. However, if you read my blog before you already know I am not interested in proving who is right or who is wrong with statistics. My belief is that we must all work together to provide the optimum care program, with the common goal of healing the cancer. The medical profession is waking up to the fact that CAM is a powerful partner for conventional medical cancer treatment. The hierarchy should be clear, medical care first and CAM second. Those who wish to integrate CAM practices into their treatment will maintain their safety and will benefit from this order in this relationship. An example for this successful relationship can be seen just up the road from my Brookline  MA office, The Dana Farber Cancer Institute. This impressive medical facility is working medical miracles and provide a wide spectrum of CAM practices in its Zakim Center. In my research I have found many other respected organizations recommending meditation, visualization acupuncture and hypnosis as an effective method for coping with the side effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Patients are the one to really benefit from this exciting partnership. Here is why CAM such as Hypnosis for Cancer may be right for you; • First, it’s designed addresses the the root cause of illness. In doing the body’s stress level is lessened and the immune response is revived. This will increase the effectiveness of medicine and improve your odds for recovery. • Secondly the therapeutic aspect of  many CAM practices can help to alleviate some of the physical and emotional distress caused by illness.This ensure you can follow through on your treatment and maintain your quality of life before, during and after treatment. • And finally CAM empowers you to see the bigger picture, take control of your health by taking part in your healing. It will and view your illness as a call to action. Continue Reading Benefits of Complementary Alternative Medicine for Cancer

biology and belief

Can our beliefs affect our biology?

New research shows that that DNA may not be entirely responsible for steering the biological ship, so to speak. DNA is actually greatly influenced by energetic messages (including those coming from our own beliefs, thoughts and emotions) coming from outside of our cells. Thoughts and emotions are energy, mind’s energy. The type of thoughts we think i.e. stressful or comforting, negative or positive stem from our beliefs. If our beliefs system is toxic it is more likely to produce negative attitudes and limiting thoughts which will result in poor health. If however our belief system is healthy, we are more likely to enjoy a positive outlook on life and think the type of thoughts that cause a feeling of health and well being. The kind of thought “energy” we allow in our mind, signal the brain to produce either health promoting or health deteriorating chemicals and disperse them into the blood stream. These chemicals when absorbed by the cells strengthen the cell or weaken it thereby leaving it vulnerable to attacks and decay. In the context of chronic illness and cancer, our ability to understand these factors that influence our biology means we may be able to prevent illness from appearing and progressing. Currently we are still operating by the old cancer treatment paradigm which has remained more or less the same since the 1940s; remove as much tumor as possible and pump the body full of cytotoxic agents to kill what remains. Imagine you needed a hip replacement surgery and your surgeon saying he wants to perform a seventy year old procedure on you? Would you allow it? Thankfully, the field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) proposes a more integrated approach to the treatment of cancer and chronic diseases. This approach looks at the body as a whole incorporating multiple disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, behavioral medicine, pharmacology, and any other discipline relevant to the treatment of a specific disease in a specific person. One of the few certainties in the medical field is that “one size fits all” medicine does not work; each person has a unique set of circumstances that must be addressed on an individual level, our beliefs about life and who we are included. Can you find evidence of this relationship between your beliefs and physical experience? Continue Reading Can our beliefs affect our biology?

cancer and blame

Should You Blame Your Mind for Your Cancer?

Many people are infuriated by the idea that illness, especially a life threatening illness such as cancer is created by the mind. The thought that we are somehow responsible for this terrible abnormality in our body is simply intolerable as well as offensive, and yet research suggests there is truth to this argument after all. The fact that our mind and body are interconnected is not breaking news. From our day to day experiences we know this mind-body relationship intimately, for example, when we get sexually aroused. This particular state of mind has many physiological effects. But what about real health concerns, can our state of mind produce a life threatening experience in our body? The answer is yes, for example, we know that statistically most heart-attacks occur on Monday morning when the new work week begins. Ample scientific research is supportive of the above claim and provides the necessary evidence? Research by Cohen et al. (1991) for example, drew a direct link between one’s mental state and one’s susceptibility to the common cold virus. The findings of this research were very clear as Rob Van Overbruggen wrote in his book “Healing Psyche”. He wrote “Statistically, the risk of getting ill was directly related to the amount of stress participants had experienced in the past year. Stress was the only determining factor in getting ill. We now know that changes in the mental state are always accompanied by changes in physiology.” As my new book, The New Cancer Paradigm state, today we know for a fact that our mind; or better say subconscious mind influences our body and biology. What is yet to be determined is whether our mind can influence our biology enough for illness to evolve? We are emotional beings, there’s no doubt of that, and we are also a physical beings. In this respect it helps to see the body as an integrated system of psychological and physiological processes. When one system is affected the whole is affected. This point highlights the truth that we are actively participating in our own creation. The type of food we eat, our lifestyle, thoughts and feelings are all factors to be considered. Do you find the above insight empowering or aggravating? Continue Reading Should You Blame Your Mind for Your Cancer?

principles for healing cancer

Do You Know the 4 Basic Principles for Healing from Illness?

The meaning of the word healing in Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM) practices may vary, but on the whole it means restoration of health, to restore one to a sound or normal state. For many of my clients, being healed simply means once again feeling the way they used to before the illness. Allopathic medicine too uses the word “Healing” though it has neither an operational definition of healing, nor an explanation of its mechanisms beyond the physiological processes related to curing. Over the years, I have found some principles which worked best for those who did exceptionally well and healed. Here are the 4 main principles to healing: 1. Acceptance: Resolve to accept yourself and even love yourself despite of your current limitations and challenges. Your dynamic emotional and physical nature means you can improve – in both mind and body. 2. Let go of the past: Now is the only time you have to heal. Refuse to live in the past or worry about the unforeseen future for instead of prompting action they tend to overwhelm and confuse. 3. Change in focus: Shift your focus from mood-killing aspects such as your illness, thinning hair or not having enough energy to be everything to everyone, to what’s really valuable and important i.e. your spirit, personality and how you live your life now. 4. Meaning of Illness: The most central key to healing is finding the silver lining around the dark cloud of illness. Ask yourself which positive aspects in your life were highlighted by your illness. Remember that no one experience is truly negative or purely positive. We live in a universe with laws and structure where everything has purpose and meaning. Consider the changes you made in your life since you’ve been diagnosed, people you met, friends who stepped up to help or simply the fact you spend more time with loved ones or with yourself. Put these principles to the test and let me know which was the most meaningful to you? Continue Reading Do You Know the 4 Basic Principles for Healing from Illness?