What we can learn from Remarkable Cancer Survivors
Dr. Kelly Turner, PhD, has written an excellent book entitled ‘Radical Remissions’ about the attitudes and actions of people who have had undergone a spontaneous remission after being told they had ‘incurable’ cancer. The Harvard undergrad got her PhD at UC Berkley interviewing nearly 100 of these remarkable people from around the world. Using qualitative research she found 9 key factors in common in all of these miraculous cases. She does not guarantee that following these healing principles guarantees a cancer cure but I believe that the remarkable survivors have much to teach you about how to live your life more fully (while giving yourself the best chance of recovery and healing).
Do the work!
Each and every person who had a radical remission took their healing journey very seriously. Facilitating extraordinary healing is not as simple as seeking out a faith healer, or taking a particular herb. It takes commitment to make the changes that influence body, mind and spirit. The hard work can pay off in making a real difference in their longevity, quality of life and much more. Here is a summary of the nine factors as applied to someone with a cancer diagnosis at any time.
#1 Radical change in diet
Diet is especially important because I believe a poor diet can contribute to the development of prostate cancer and an ongoing poor diet can help turn the slow growing cells that may be present in the body into faster growing cells.
Eat a plant-based diet of mostly veggies and fruits, (more of the former) and avoid meat, sweets and wheat. Do your research, see a dietician, and enjoy the pleasure of eating and feeling stronger.
#2 Taking control of your health (you’re reading this so you’re already there)
#3 Following your intuition
Your nervous system connects the nerves in your gut with those in your skull. Get the information about what you should be doing by using your logical mind. The subconscious nervous system will do the work of figuring what works best, and will send that info outwards – you’ll often get a gut impression of what’s best for you.
For those of you who believe there is something beyond this physical world (ie consciousness) you can think about intuition as tapping into a loving and wise source. We need to trust what feels right and keep learning from our experience.
#4 Using Herbs and supplements
Take away from Dr. Turner’s research: There is no one substance that all of the remarkable survivors took. Refer back to #3 about figuring out what’s best for you. Dr. Turner broke down the external medicines into a) immune boosters (I don’t think this is the mechanism of cure for prostate cancer – though I could be wrong), b) anti-oxidants (should be able to get ample in a healthy diet) and c) supplements that work to help you digest your food.
#5 and #6 Releasing suppressed emotions and increasing positive emotions
Here is another area of exploration where doing the work (eg. seeing a therapist, learning to reframe difficult thoughts) can have a profound effect on your health and happiness. Note that ‘increasing positive emotions’ does not mean putting on a happy mask. Instead I believe being authentic others and ourselves promotes healing maximally. We can create the conditions in our lives which are most likely to promote the positive emotions like joy and peace, for example by being more grateful for what we have.
#7 Embracing Social Support
If you want to be pragmatic about this think about this. You are wired through evolution to be part of a tribe. When you hang out with others you boost your body’s ability to heal itself. Physical contact (think hugs / touch) with your partner and/or your dog is healing. For instance the contact releases oxytocin into your blood stream which is an anti-inflammatory chemical that protects your heart among others tissues.
#8 Deepening spiritual connections
This spirituality has less to do with trying make yourself have more faith or even attending a traditional religious service (though that might be very helpful too) but with nurturing an internal experience of connection with life and the universe. Take the time to contemplate, practice the exercises or do the activities that feel right for you.
#9 Having strong reasons for living
Perhaps this should be the #1 factor. Following the other 8 factors will strengthen your body, sharpen your mind, and help tap you into the miracle of living. You’ll dramatically increase these positive effects of your healing work by finding a purpose to live. Like Mary Oliver wrote ‘What are you going to do with your one ‘wild and precious’ life?’ Live there. That is the ground of the miracle.
Rob Rutledge, MD