Sunday, March 30, 2014

CANCER SURVIVORS: What do they do differently?

 This morning SUNRISE ROUNDS had a remarkable story:  Against the Odds.  It's the saga of a patient whose life has held amazing survivals and avoided recurrance of some cancers that are often deadly for others.

We know nothing of her inner life; her doctor says she "gets back up."  I don't know the answers to her amazing recoveries, though I suspect good insurance, excellent care, and enough money may have helped.

The closest I've come to learning answers for such riddles is in The Immune Power Personality (yes, here I go again with that book.)

Amazing stories are told there: one is of Alice Epstein, who recovered from an "incurable" cancer after embarking on an intense spiritual, mental, and emotional journey.

Alice was given three months to live after being diagnosed with kidney cancer that had spread to her lungs.  

Supported by her psychologist husband, she took a deep look into attitudes and feelings that had followed her through life.  Finally she told her husband she did not wish that to be "her last winter."  She determined to fight. 

Then she found a therapist who teaches Psychosynthesis, a therapy devised in Italy, that has not caught on in the US. Dreyer quotes her as saying, "Within three weeks, I knew I was changing . . . the hopelessness had turned into faith that I was going to get better."  She began recovering quickly enough to dare turning down an experimental program.

She lived to be 86, and died of stroke, not cancer.

Yes, I admit she and her husband were not poor, they could pay the therapist and the travel to hospitals, and the bills.  And her husband was a psychologist and an incredible support to her.

On the other hand, we ask athletes, and women with great skin, "What do  you do?"  We ask people who lived to be a hundred how they do it.  

Maybe we'd better pay more attention to how cancer survivors do it.

I've read Alice's book, Mind, Fantasy, and Healing.  She knows her case is rare, and feels most cancer patients will do better with combined medical and psychological treatment. 

Maybe we'd better be as concerned about cancer patients who are underserved by good psychologists as we are about their being underserved for medical treatment?

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