‘Fighting’ cancer or other life-threatening diseases
I was just reading a Telegraph article today entitled “Socialising with others ‘can help fight cancer'”. The headline led me to ‘put pen to paper’.
From my clinical experience, one of the most prevalent causes of disease, whether it be a bad back or whether it be heart disease, is the unconscious refusal or inability to freely and honestly express ourselves as we truly are. The most common example of this is in the work we choose to engage in to earn a living.
The whole idea of recovering from a life-threatening disease, like cancer, being a ‘fight’, I find difficult to get my mind round. My appreciation of disease processes is clearly influenced by my style of medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with its range of therapeutic techniques, such as acupuncture. TCM is holistic in its approach to healthcare. Holism states that body and mind are inextricably linked so what happens to one will have an inevitable knock-on effect on the function of the other. Holism understands that disease is not some random, chance occurrence that we have little or no control over. Even geneticists attribute only 25% of our state of health to our inheritance. My own personal experience of scrutinising my state of health, and intermittent fall from good health over the years, has yielded a clear connection between this and my thought processes. Scrutinising the health of thousands of others in my professional capacity, and studying research and the clinical experience of others far more experienced and talented than me, has corroborated my conclusions.
Gradually, modern medicine is starting to fully appreciate the huge influence our state of mind has on our health. This is really well summarised in Adrian Leader’s book “Why do People get Ill?” Literally, we are what we think. It is becoming increasingly evident that our thought processes create our diseases, whether they involve physical or mental symptoms, or both. We can say that our heart condition has been brought on by working intensely under stressful circumstances for a prolonged period of time, but what thought processes have led us to work like this in the first place. For example, if during our upbringing, we have thought, for whatever reason, that we needed to ‘achieve’ in order to gain ‘acceptance’ or ‘love’ from our parents, then this might have trained the habit of ‘flogging’ ourselves in our work life.
Holistic healthcare is about helping each individual bring their unconscious motivations into conscious awareness whilst using tried and tested techniques to facilitate recovery from the current disease-state. We do this by stimulating the body’s own, already amazingly well-equipped self-preservation systems. When an individual understands their disease process as part of who they are, they see that there can be no ‘fight’ against cancer because the cancer is a part of them. There is no external ‘enemy’ to fight. They have literally created their circumstances by their thoughts words and deeds in their life to date. Therefore, the only long-term, sustainable solution is through new thoughts, words and deeds. So, in my mind, self-understanding is the key. As far as I can see, achieving self-understanding is a process, often long and arduous, which is why we are often well-advised to seek external help when experiencing a life-threatening disease state.
The word ‘fight’ often implies a struggle. Because of the negative connotations this idea holds, this is just likely to make the process of recovery that much more difficult. So, I believe that our best chance of survival is to embrace the symptoms we are suffering as messages sent from deep inside us as an aid to reaching fullness. This way we can utilise the healing power of love, love of our self and the people around us and of life. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is probably one of the best wake-up calls we will ever get in helping us to express ourselves as we truly are. So let’s embrace it. Or, as the motif on one of the Tai Chi students in my class says: “make tea, not war!”
Written by Sean