The Missing Piece in Your Cancer Puzzle
As a mind-body cancer specialist, clients often ask me for an opinion on modern medicine, should they undergo the conventional route of treatment or not? In asking this question some merely wish for a confirmation of their set world view but some are actually curious.
My answer is simple, if you believe in medicine and research absolutely take advantage of what it offers. If you don’t believe in medicine or view research as an extension of pharma’s propaganda, then the efficacy of whatever medicine offer will be diminished.
Personally I feel the truth is somewhere in the middle. You can become informed by your medical team and still opt only for what you feel is right for you. Medicine has come a long way and has much to offer. This does not mean it’s perfect in any way. There are pieces of the puzzle missing and you, as a patient, have to find them and put them together.
Integrative Mind-Body Approach
If you’ve never heard of psychoneuroimmunology or PNI, it’s pretty safe to say your doctor hasn’t either. Unfortunately, this field of scientific study is missing from many medical curriculum and therefore doctors are not educated about PNI.
When doctors are in school they spend a good deal of time learning about pharmaceuticals as opposed to the power that the mind has over the body and vice versa. If your oncologist takes the time to discuss diet, exercise, and mind-body therapies with you – hang on to that doctor!
Because many doctors learn only the Newtonian science model they fail to recognize the mind and body as an integrated system. They may talk about stressors and triggers that can influence your wellness and recovery but not more than that. What PNI affords us now is a clear understanding of the mechanism at play and the relationship between emotional processes and the body’s immune system.
A mind-body loop
For decades, researchers have known that behavioral and psychological influences can affect the potency and functioning of our immune system. Newer research shows that the immune system sends signals to the brain which can alter behavior, thought, and mood. 1 So it’s true that stress can make you physically ill.
Even though psychoneuroimmunologists talk about the immune response of t-cells, b-cells, and antibodies the latest information is causing scientists to look more closely at what they call the “nonspecific immune response” which is the body’s first line of defense against infection or injury. 1
Nonspecific immune response
This nonspecific immune response triggers a series of physiological and behavioral changes including: fever, reduced food and water intake, changes in liver metabolism, reduced sexual activity, increased anxiety, and the release of stress hormones. This sickness pattern is an attempt by the body to produce energy for fighting infection and to preserve energy through behavior changes. 1
Words are powerful
A doctor’s language to the patient, and the patient’s language to themselves, is of the utmost importance for healing. The reason is patients often become worse at the time of diagnosis. Once they attach words to their symptoms, the symptoms often get worse. Cancer carries all kinds of negative connotations so once the patient translates the cancer into words a biochemical reality takes place.
Hypnosis for Cancer Recovery
Knowing facts and what can be done is one part of the equation. Research point us in the right direction indeed but without a method of application we only remain in the realm of theory. The good news is such a method exist and readily available and I call it Immersive Healing. I gave it the title Immersive Healing because it’s not just hypnosis for cancer but rather a synergy of tools comprising a mental algorithm or a protocol.
You can learn about this algorithm in greater details at AvinoamLerner.com or in my book The New Cancer Paradigm. The book offer research references and case study to help you decide if this method is right for you.
For the time being though it may be helpful to understand the algorithm engages the subconscious mind which is the part of your mind that regulates many of our bodily functions such as breathing, body temperature, digestion etc. This is also the part of the mind that influence immune function hence its importance for cancer recovery or any other auto immune disorder.
Laughter as Medicine
Dr. Norman Cousins became well known after he wrote Anatomy of an Illness, which chronicled his use of natural healing using laughter. He suffered from a catastrophic illness that his doctors told him would be fatal. However, Dr. Cousins lived 16 years longer than predicted thanks to his willingness to break with tradition and go his own way. In doing so he realized how belief systems and expectations shape human capability.
Following is Dr. Cousins’ brilliant Prescription for Overcoming Illness and Staying Healthy:
- Never accept any pronouncements of doom. Don’t deny the diagnosis, defy the verdict. Have a blazing determination to overcome it. Keep hopeful. Share in the work efforts needed to heal.
- Use all your resources. We’re stronger than we think, with far greater resources for meeting challenges than we’ve been told or led to believe.
- Accept illness as a part of life—not something that is to be feared.
- Find the joy in every experience. We need to approach procedures in a mood of thanksgiving that it’s wonderful to be living in a time when science has put these treatment options at our disposal and gives us a real chance to live well.
- Accept life as infinitely precious, fragile, but also infinitely strong under varying circumstances.
- Choose to live a full life. The great tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside us while we live.
- Respect, nurture, and invoke the basic drive of life—regeneration. 2
If you want to harness the power of you mind-body connection for healing and recovery in addition to your medical treatments and see for yourself how hypnotherapy and other non-invasive therapies can help you heal with less pain, stress and negative side effects please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 617.564.0707.
The Aftermath of Cancer Diagnosis
The mental and emotional aftermath of a cancer diagnosis can further burden the functioning of our immune system and thus our ability to heal and recover. Though more and more oncologists recognize the benefits of offering mental and emotional support, they still fall short of offering their patients the much needed guidance and support, it’s just not their scope of practice.
How Can You Support Your Cancer Recovery?
There are many avenues you can choose, from the conventional to the holistic, but you can also begin to work yourself on dissolving the building blocks of your stress and suffering. One such tool i share with you in this video.
Based on a new research, substantive dialogue may help increase your state of well-being, but emotional exchanges likely don’t.
In Megan L. Robbins new research which she published at the journal Psycho-Oncology, she examine how patients dialog and conversations impact their experience.
Below please find the quoted article by By J.D. Warren of www.ucr.edu
“They found that everyday, meaningful dialogue unrelated to cancer may facilitate well-being while coping with cancer. A distinction is drawn between substantive and superficial, or emotional, conversation.
Robbins said a previous study by other researchers found that substantive conversation is related to better well-being, but superficial conversation is not.
“The idea is that discussing something of substance, rather than just shooting the breeze with someone about nothing in particular, might be a more satisfying interaction and perhaps fosters relationships better,” Robbins said. “Emotional conversations have substance, but can be more complicated than a non-emotional substantive conversation. For example, the social context has to be supportive for those to go well.”
In fact, in Robbins’ study, she found emotional conversations were related to poorer well-being in some cases.
Robbins’ study found that about one-third of peoples’ conversation is substantive, consistent with past research. Substantive conversations include those about news, political issues, philosophical topics, ideas, or information about a non-emotional topic.
If a participant shared his or her opinions or emotions about a topic – revealing fears, concerns, or aspirations – researchers considered the conversation emotional.
For the study, 52 couples wore an “Electronically Activated Recorder,” or EAR, over one weekend and self-reported well-being. The EAR sampled 50 seconds of ambient sound every nine minutes to estimate the frequency of non-cancer conversation and reveal topics and types of dialogue.
Based on 17 hours awake each day, couples were speaking just under half the time. Patients spoke an average of 19,473 words, and partners spoke 14,535 words per day, Analyses revealed non-cancer talk comprised more than 93 percent of conversations. The most common topic discussed was people.
Substantive conversation was associated with greater well-being, while emotional disclosures were associated with worse well-being – though only for patients, not spouses. Put simply, more emotional conversation may sometimes reflect feeling more depressed; substantive conversation can reflect lower levels of depressive symptoms.
This is the same study group used in a Robbins study that garnered attention in 2017. In the journal Personal Relationships, the paper “Everyday Emotion Word and Personal Pronoun Use Reflects Dyadic Adjustment Among Couples Coping with Breast Cancer,” asserted the use of first-person singular pronouns – I, me, my – by spouses of cancer patients is related to better marital quality for both partners because the focus was not always on the patient.
Beyond the patients’ well-being, Robbins said the current study again demonstrates that words can reflect important differences in romantic relationships. Achieving marital quality could be as simple as using the right words, and finding balance, the study asserts.
“Our findings suggest it may be fruitful to develop and test interventions that encourage couples to engage in substantive conversations about topics that interest them,” Robbins said. “Interventions could circumvent potential negative side effects, such as distress from discussing cancer, and may have the added positive side effect of strengthening couples’ relationships as they cope with cancer.”
In addition to Robbins, study authors for the paper, “Naturalistically Observing Non-Cancer Conversations among Couples Coping with Breast Cancer” include Alexander Karan (University of California, Riverside), Ana María López (Jefferson University), and Karen Weihs (University of Arizona).”
Back in 2013 I wrote a short post on “Why Cancer Patients Seek Support Outside the Hospital Walls”. It was back then a way for me to acknowledge the growing trend of more and more cancer patients seeking complementary services to their medical care with practitioners not affiliated with their main care place.
The need of both cancer patients and caregivers to seek support outside the hospital walls is still strong but patients face the challenge of sorting through an overwhelming amount of information in order to decide who is genuine and what may be beneficial.
In a world where every practitioner has a website, YouTube channel, and an arsenal of Social Media outlets available, how do you sort through this maze of resources, methods and titles?
It’s interesting (for me) to observe how many of my clients intuitively resolved this overwhelm of information. Yes, they will do their research online, but the defining factor in their decision making process is more personal. At least in my case, they found out about the work I do through the original form of solid marketing, to good-all method of word-of-mouth.
The human factor, the same one that prompted them to seek support outside of the hospital walls is THE guiding factor in their decision making process about complementary treatments. The bottom line is when you provide a valuable service people talk about it. They share their thoughts and experience with those connected to them through all those amazing points of online access I mentioned before.
I find the swinging of the ‘information’ pendulum fascinating. It gives me, as a practitioner hope that those who need the kind of support I offer will be able to find it.
The Problem with Free Cancer Support Resources
Would you attend a free cancer wellness event in your community? Having offered many such events over the past 10 years my conclusion is that for the most part patients and caregivers associate free events with little or no value.
For me, free resources/events were a way to give back to the community. Reach people that could not otherwise afford being a paid client. These events however are usually poorly attended. Many times no one showed up.
We’ve all been taught in one way or another that you can only get value when you’re paying for it but it’s sad really. There has to be a way for you to find support for a low or no cost at all. There has to be aa way for you to find help outside the hospital walls because, well, life happens outside these walls.
If you are a patient or a caregiver, you know the hospital environment can be isolating. You know that what takes place inside the Chemo Suite is quite different from outside everyday life.
My hope in offering support outside the hospital walls was to address one of the greatest challenges for anyone emerging from the cancer journey, which is to settle back into their daily living.
I am curious, as a practitioner to learn how to better support you and others during this period of time. Do you have a suggestion for me?
If you wish to find out more about events happening this month visit our Calendar.
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Watertown, MA 02472
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About Avinoam Lerner
Avinoam Lerner is a Trauma Recovery Coach specializing in Cancer, Addiction & PTSD, TEDx Speaker and the author of The New Cancer Paradigm.
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