cancer healing and recovery avinoam lerner

Can You Improve Your Cancer Treatment Outcome?

If you knew of certain actions you could take to improve the outcome of your cancer treatment; would you take them? If you discovered tools and techniques you could use to optimize your healing and recovery, would you use them? That’s what my clients do, and they often get better outcomes than their medical team predicted.

I am a strong believer in the power of modern medicine. If you read any of my previous posts or watched any of my videos, you likely know that. The bottom line is that more people survive their cancer today than at any other time in history. That’s because of the advancement in medical treatment. And yet, medicine is not a silver bullet. Medicine treats only the physical body where the crisis in the form of tumors is visible. But if you’re facing cancer, you know that this illness impacts a lot more than just your physical body. It impacts you mentally, emotionally, and, for some, even spiritually.

My clients recognize they have to actively participate in their healing and recovery. They have to be a part of the solution. This is why they often get better treatment outcomes. Treating only one aspect of the illness, i.e. the physical body, they are likely to get only partial results. In the context of illness such as cancer that means recurrence.

Illness such as cancer is multidimensional, and therefore the remedy must be as well. If we want if we want lasting results, we must treat the whole person. We need to apply the remedy to every dimension.

Yes, the physical expression of cancer is where the urgent crisis is. But there’s a lot more to healing than what happens in the doctor’s office or in between medical treatment. There is a person living in this physical body, and this person has to be addressed as well.

Actions to Heal from Cancer

Any action that can reduce emotions like stress, fear, and despair can be considered actions that promote healing and recovery from cancer. Our emotions are like gages on the dashboard of our mind, they communicate when our “system” is overloaded or depleted. If our mental and emotional systems are overloaded, that means we are promoting (unintentionally, of course) stress biology.

Stress biology means that our brain will produce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Research has indicated that over-exposure to stress hormones diminishes the body’s immune system’s ability to do its job, i.e., eliminate any abnormality in our blood.

If our mental and emotional systems are depleted, we feel fatigued and depressed. This, too, is robbing the body of precious energy to engage in the healing and repair of the body.

We stress out, or experience fear because of how we perceive things to be, and whether or not we believe we have the inner resources to cope.

To change that, we need to learn how to reprogram our minds to perceive differently. We need to change what we believe about ourselves to be true. That means learning to reprogram our minds with tools like self-hypnosis, which every one of my clients learns during our work together, either in-person or online.

Tools and Techniques to Heal from Cancer

Over the 22 years in my practice, I sifted through countless body-mind tools and techniques to aid my clients. My whisper to you is that the best tools are the simplest. Simple does not mean less effective; in fact, my opinion is exactly the opposite. That is because we are more likely to use tools that are simple over those that are too ornate, even if the latter sounds smart and elevated.

I already mentioned self-hypnosis, but another simple tool for self-regulating ourselves mentally and emotionally is the Emotional Freedom Technique, better known as EFT or Tapping. If you keep your practice to the most basic and really understand the building blocks of this tool, you will get relief 100% of the time.

EFT is one of the many tools I teach my clients in the 8-Week Mindful Remission Online Program, or during our 3-Day In-Person Intensive. If you want to learn more about these tools, use this link to set up a time for us to speak. Consultations are free and to the point, and can provide you with the much-needed guidance you were looking for.

Thriving with cancer - a Client's Testimonial

Thriving with Cancer – A Client’s Testimonial

Thriving With Cancer

Paul Gilbert

How I transformed my mindset to maximize healing before, during, and after treatment

“I have bad news.” First time I heard those words, my heart skipped a beat. The second time was more of a kick in the balls, a mix of disbelief and agony. When a doctor says, “you’ve got cancer,” you know your world won’t be the same again — I’d just been presented with lifetime membership to a club I never wanted to join.

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2019 and one of the first things my doctor told me is that it’s actually a “good cancer” (words I’d never put together) because if discovered early, it’s highly treatable. It’s true, there are far worse types of cancer, but it still felt like my body had betrayed me. I was 63, which my doctors called young, ate well, exercised and didn’t drink or smoke. Cancer? WTF!

Given a choice of surgery or radiation, I dove into research. Turns out the web is a Pandora’s Box of information and misinformation. As someone who prides himself on being a practical, take-charge type who’s highly competent at solving personal and professional problems, that self-image took a blow. No matter where I looked, the side-effects were alarming, and the outcome would be out of my control. And denial wasn’t a treatment option.

Being a private person, I only shared the news with a few close friends. There was a huge hole in my own inner circle, as both of my brothers had been diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia. One had passed and the other was just a shell of the person I once knew. So, the two men I was closest to (we spoke 2–3 times a week), had disappeared and that sense of loss and grief felt even more acute now.

I was fortunate that my wife was there to support me every step of the way, but I didn’t want to burden her with every daunting detail or frighten our kids with the specter of their father being really sick. It was hard enough dealing with the diagnosis on my own, as I didn’t want to admit to them, or to myself, how scared I was. So, I swallowed a lot of that fear, and my stomach churned with cerebral indigestion.

Under The Robot’s Knife

In April, I underwent a radical prostatectomy at the UCSF Medical Center. It was done by a world-renowned surgeon using a robotic machine called the Da Vinci, operated from ten feet away using three-dimensional, high-definition video, like some kind of space-age Xbox. That night, plodding along the halls of the hospital like a zombie, my wife firmly holding my arm, I knew I’d survived a battle, but was literally wounded to the core. It also marked the beginning of two weeks of using a catheter and feeling pissed off took on a whole new meaning.

Tests showed the cancer had been confined to the capsule, so I assumed my treatment was done. Life might not go back to exactly as before, but some of the anxiety and uncertainty that had been my constant companions lifted. Other than a small scar on my abdomen, no one would know I’d had an operation that could permanently affect my plumbing and sexual function. It took time to heal my physical body and for the mental and emotional trauma to subside, but I was content being a cancer survivor and became one of the lucky ones who had a full recovery.

Actually, turns out I wasn’t so lucky, because in April 2021, a routine PSA blood test showed evidence of a recurrence. I wasn’t told at the time of surgery that a third of men with prostate cancer will need salvage radiation therapy later on. Not aware of this, I hadn’t worried, so I was floored when I found out. It felt like my body had turned on me again and a Vincent Price-ish voice of gloom reminded me of my mortality. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer deaths — a statistic that hovered in the back of my mind like a loitering Grim Reaper.

The first step in pre-treatment was a PSMA, a highly-sophisticated PET scan, to try to pinpoint our target. I was injected with radioactive isotopes (you know something is up when it arrives in a lead box) and iodine to help locate the cancer cells, but nothing showed up. They were there somewhere, but too small to see. Given my options of doing nothing, while monitoring my PSA levels or immediately starting hormone therapy and radiation treatment, I hesitated. Going through forced man-opause and radiating my body without knowing the exact location of the cancer didn’t make sense, like carpet bombing versus radar-guided missiles.

So, I waited, and over the next 15 months, I had four more scans, each showing no sign of cancer. The good news was it was microscopic; the bad news was that the disease wasn’t adapting to my battle plan. I was fortunate to have a great medical team, and I did join a prostate cancer support group, where the members provided very useful information and encouragement. But sharing my story made me feel less than whole, as, like many men, one of my weaknesses is not being able to admit to any weakness. Those cancer wrist bracelets always use the word Strong.

Covering All the Bases

Meanwhile, I discussed nutrition, supplements, exercise, acupuncture, and meditation with my integrative oncologist. I tried all kinds of holistic modalities, such as energy work, sound healing, and CBD. And leaving no stone unturned, I even visited a shaman in Baja, Mexico.

Acupuncture was very helpful in balancing my system. The energy work was done over the phone with someone using his intuition to release blockages. Interesting process didn’t feel any changes. The sound therapy was pleasant and put me to sleep, and a CBD tincture had no discernible impact. But an occasional hit of its cousin, THC cannabis, and an everyday challenge can take on an ever-so-slight shift towards more bearable or enjoyable, counteracting the constant undercurrent of dis-ease (and increasing the desire for a chocolate chip cookie). In my book, all of these, including the cookie, constitute medicine.

High on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the shaman, a gentle soul dressed all in white, blessed me, cleansed my body with sage, and called on the spirits to help me heal. Like a dramatic movie scene, there was an overwhelming sensation of natural forces at work and a feeling of profound gravitas. Given all the modalities I’d already sought out, I was fully open to adding some potent mojo to my list of medications. Can’t get a Rx for magic at CVS.

Put Me In, Coach

Even though my PSA level was low, and we still couldn’t see the cancer on the scans, I was running out of time and needed to make a decision, rather than risk the cancer spreading to my bones or organs. Not taking action meant I didn’t have to endure hormone therapy and radiation right away, but waiting might lead to a lifetime of treatment or even a death sentence. Eventually, I realized the most judicious move was to combine the best of modern and traditional therapies.

But I also wanted to be an active participant in the process. Preparing for six months of conventional treatment, I did a web search on mind-body medicine and cancer and found Avinoam Lerner, a clinical hypnotherapist and cancer & trauma recovery specialist in Boston. Despite the distance, I figured I had nothing to lose, except money, to learn about using my mind to aid in my healing journey. At times, we need experts and mentors to help us develop new skills, and being a life-long athlete who had also worked in professional sports, I recognized the value of having a cancer coach.

I flew east for three days of intensive one-on-one sessions. In a cozy, light-filled office, the comfort of a cushioned chair, water, and energy bars within reach, it felt as if I was preparing for a triathlon. My coach was a former soldier in the Israeli army and had a no-nonsense aura about him, like an empathetic drill sergeant in a cancer boot camp. Using hypnosis and self-hypnosis, we got down in the trenches together, getting me ready for the battle of my life. Actually, the battle for my life.

It was grueling work, but as we pushed through my defenses and long-held beliefs that I brought to cancer treatment, I discovered while my medical team was treating my physical body, it was my job to take care of the person within my body. That meant taking ownership and responsibility for how I think and feel. Rather than falling down a rabbit hole of victimhood, helplessness and hopelessness, I needed to envision the best scenarios and results in every stage of treatment. I had to confront my demons, declare my willingness to change, acknowledge my resilience, and believe I deserved every chance to heal.

I followed up with my coach’s 8-week online course, which was more goal-oriented and result driven with practical tools such as writing exercises (including daily gratitude journaling), self-hypnosis, and meditations for surgery, chemo, or radiation treatments. Neuroscientists are studying how cognitive thought affects nerve cells and tumors, and research into the benefits of psychoneuroimmunology has shown that going into any medical procedure in the right state of mind will yield fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery rate, even overall better outcomes.

Most importantly, I reclaimed some sense of control by retraining my brain to think positively. Negative thoughts repress the body’s immune system — the goal is to recognize these old voices and deactivate them using a constructive mindset. When my inner critic says, “You’re not going to beat this cancer,” my inner ally responds with, “I’m living life fully and sticking around!” Ironic that letting go of the outside elements I can’t control has helped me gain more command of my inner world.

Make Up Your Mind

Now, when I wake up and before I go to sleep, I write about the large and small things I’m grateful for. I practice self-hypnosis and visit an emotional control room to acknowledge any angst, and dial it down. Lying below the linear accelerator, which slowly rotates like a space station as it emits computer-guided external beam radiation, I listen to hard-driving classic rock and visualize cancer cells being zapped by drones. When swimming laps, I see giant waves washing the cancer out to sea. This all would have sounded silly to me before I gained this new sense of self-awareness, but now, it makes me feel powerful when I’m at my most vulnerable.

Is my whole-istic approach to cancer treatment working? I do have hormonal side effects, such as hot flashes. I’ll be reading in my chair and suddenly, need to start peeling off clothes, my internal thermostat going haywire. Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is history, I’ve gained a little weight and with less testosterone, my libido has gone on a sabbatical. I also have body aches and radiation fatigue. But these are all temporary conditions, and I keep reminding myself the long-range forecast calls for clear skies.

Yes, there will be moments when life gets messy and the “why me?” sneaks in. But I’ve learned that a serious illness can have a silver lining, where it becomes a rite of passage, a matter of self-transformation. Seeing certain patterns that had become my identity, there’s a strategic battle to choose which ones I wanted to keep and which I wanted to change. It’s an ongoing tug-of-war, but during this crisis, I’ve become more like the person I wished I could be. Cancer has humbled me, opened my heart, and made me more human.

Approaching the finish line in my second round of treatment, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, one word my doctors don’t use is “cure.” Each time I get a PSA test, the ideal result will be “no current evidence of disease.” Yet my goal isn’t to merely survive; it’s living with the energy and intention of thriving. In addition to ridding my body of these malignant cells, my deeper purpose is to feel more grateful, peaceful, joyful, and loving. Daily doses of these elixirs are the strongest medicine in my cabinet.

And there’s also one special remedy in my back pocket. I can always FaceTime with my shaman.

EFT for cancer anxiety

How to Stop Cancer Anxiety?

Feeling anxious when receiving a cancer diagnosis or undergoing treatment is understandable, even expected. Whether it’s about treatment-related side effects, cancer spreading, or returning after treatment has ended, whether it’s about losing our independence, our support system, relationships, etc.

In the dictionary, anxiety is described as feeling nervous, worried, and on edge. These normal and common emotions help us cope with what our brain defines as a threat. After all, an illness such as cancer which we label as life-threatening, is exactly that, a threat.

Symptoms of Cancer Anxiety

There is no one-size-fits-all when coping with anxiety, yet many of my clients shared similar experiences. Some reported physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweaty palms, or a racing heart. Others talked about emotional symptoms such as panic, fear, dread, and worry.

Regardless of your particular symptoms, think of anxiety as an outcome. It’s the outcome of your mind and body trying to process your experience.

Cancer Anxiety in Survivors

And cancer anxiety is not exclusive to the duration of treatment; survivors often struggle with it as well.

For cancer survivors, anxiety may stem from and relate to their state of health. In this case, every ache and pain may trigger their fear that cancer will return. This may include being highly alert to any possible physical symptoms, extreme focus on their cancer status, and requesting medical tests and visits with their doctor more often or earlier than needed.

So, what can we do to minimize or even resolve cancer anxiety?

In this blog post, I want to share one particular practice with a great many benefits. This one practice has helped many of my clients get relief and is known as Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT.

EFT and Cancer Anxiety

EFT is a safe and easy-to-use self-help method based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The practice combines a gentle touch with mindful attention to thoughts and feelings.

Think of EFT as a form of “emotional acupuncture” or “mindful acupressure” that involves the stimulation of specific points along the face and body. Instead of using needles (as in acupuncture), EFT uses a technique of gentle tapping on these various acupressure points located on the face, hands, and body.

EFT also uses verbalization. It involves verbalizing the “issue” we want to focus on and experience relief for. The verbalization and tapping seem to release the intensity or charge of the “issue” we tap on.

Why is EFT Affective

This is a long answer, so to keep this post short, let me use the analogy of noise cancellation technology.

If every emotion we feel has a frequency, we will use EFT to generate the equal but opposite frequency (through tapping and verbalizing) that will cancel it. I will admit this can be a vague explanation, but for now, it’s a good start. You can learn more about EFT HERE

If you seek relief from anxiety and wish to learn more about EFT and how it can support you, reach out to me via my CONTACT PAGE, and I’ll be happy to share more.

Meditation and Yoga for Cancer Patients

More Doctors Prescrib Meditation and Yoga for Cancer Patients

THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) — Mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation and deep-breathing exercises appear to be gaining more acceptance in mainstream medicine, according to a new study.

Meditation for Cancer

Doctors Prescribe Meditation for Cancer

Mind-body therapy is used by more than one-third of Americans, and that number is rising, the researchers noted. They found that one in 30 Americans using some type of mind-body therapy was referred to the treatment by a medical provider.

“There’s good evidence to support using mind-body therapies clinically,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, an integrative medicine fellow at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said in a news release from Beth Israel. “Still, we didn’t expect to see provider referral rates that were quite so high.”

Nerurkar and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 23,000 households that took part in the 2007 U.S. National Health Interview Survey. Nearly 3 percent of the people in those households, or about 6.3 million people, used mind-body therapies after referral by a mainstream medical provider, the study found. These people tended to be sicker and used the health-care system more than people who started using the therapies without a referral.

What We Have Learned

“What we learned suggests that providers are referring their patients for mind-body therapies as a last resort once conventional therapeutic options have failed,” Nerurkar said. “It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health-care system and, possibly, better outcomes for these patients.”

The study is published in the May 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

“These data suggest that mind-body therapies have really become a mainstream approach to care,” Dr. Russell Phillips, chief of primary care at Beth Israel and the study’s senior author, said in the news release. “But more research is needed to guide physician and patient decision-making regarding their use.”

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about mind-body therapy.
SOURCE: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, news release, May 9, 2011
Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

cancer hypnosis

Welcome

I have been meaning to write this blog for some time now, inspired by many of my clients and their stories I felt that others may benefit and draw strength into their lives.

My name is Avinoam Lerner and I am a Holistic therapist and a Hypnotherapist, a Healer if you will. If I’m being honest, it was not my intention to focus my practice on helping those diagnosed with cancer and chronic illnesses heal, nor did I think I would feel privileged to do so. Nevertheless I do feel this way and believe it is what I am here to do.

Over the years I have worked with many who despite of their dire physical predicament were able to beat the odds, recover and heal. My hope is that the information shared in this blog will move, inspire and uplift your spirit so that you too can be transformed and find your way back to health.

The purpose of this blog as is to become a place where intelligent, like minded people can connect and speak their mind about cancer, chronic illness and their personal journey towards healing.

I want you to know – I always encourage your feedback! Please, let me know how I’m doing along the way and share your own stories 🙂

You can also expect that this blog from here on out will be a hub and source for solid, interesting information every day.

I’d like to invite you to participate, and subscribe now to get involved with the latest conversations! The more we can learn from each other and share our thoughts the better.

It’s only together that we can create a community…share ideas…and maybe even change the world!

So subscribe, comment and let me know your story. I look forward to sharing this space with you.