Healing Cancer & Your Mind (9)

How & Why Guided Imagery Works

Cancer Victor Describes Psycho-Neuro-Immunological Background

"A placebo is a medicine or other kind of treatment that seems therapeutic, but is actually inert, or empty. It is pharmacologically inactive. It works only if you believe it will. Even though placebos lack chemical of other value in and of themselves, they have a very real effect in 30% to 40% of patients [which will include cancer patients]…..The fact that people respond to placebos is one of the clearest examples in medicine that the mind has a major effect on the body. Placebos can be so effective that they can actually produce unwanted side effects…Such negative reactions clearly show the power of the mind to influence the body’s physical responses."
American Cancer Society website discussing the placebo effect

The following text is excerpted from Gerald W. White’s former book Cancer Wars MAARS JOURNEY (now “Three Months to Life”, see Books on Mind Power, Mental Influences, Illness & Healing). Gerald W. White healed himself of kidney (renal cell) cancer with “a combination of prayer, meditation and guided imagery” and has since become an indefatigable crusader for the power of the mind to heal a person from cancer.

Chapter 1: A Guided Walk Through Renal Cell Cancer
Chapter 2: A Patient Looks At the Human Immune System
Chapter 3: The Journey Begins
Chapter 4: The Attack of the Good Guys
Chapter 5: Questions, Questions and More Questions
Appendix
A. The Relationship of Dynamic Similarity, The Mind/Body Connection and the Consistently Poor Transfer of Cancer Drug Test Results From Laboratory Animals to the Human Body
B. A Commentary on Certain Aspects of Spiritual Healing
C. A Synopsis of Remarks by Gerald White at the Survivors Panel during the 1998 Meeting of the National Kidney Cancer Association; Chicago, July 1998
D. Recommended Reading
E. Recommended Web Sites
Illustrations: include Hematopoietic Chart of Cell Differentiation, An "NK" Cell attached to a "Target" cell, A Macrophage attacking a chain of streptococcus, A T-lymphocyte attacking a cancer cell

T-lymphocyte attacking a cancer cell

A T-lymphocyte attacking a cancer cell

The analogy between cancer in the human body and anarchy within human society is not a difficult one to draw. Cancer cells do, indeed run amuck in the human body. There seems to be no awareness at any level of consciousness on the part of the cancer cells that, by destroying their host, they are bringing about their own demise. Thus it is evident that cancer cells are ignorant organisms and incapable of logical action. The antithesis of ignorance is knowledge and this suggests that an appeal to the intellect in fighting these cellular anarchists may offer some potential. Intelligent creatures outsmarting stupid enemies is sometimes referred to as the survival of the fittest.

Modern society seems totally committed to a force of arms approach to cancer. We will cut it, we will poison it or we will burn it. We will kill these rats if it means burning down the barn! There is no doubt that battles are being won and this is wonderful news. For the combatant patients, the scars are often deep and the wounds crippling. Yes, we can be grateful for modern medicine for so many new and exciting weapons. We must not let pride in and dependence upon these warlike techniques cause us to become unmindful to the benefits of more peaceful solutions. Can it be that there is a purely intellectual approach to a more diplomatic solution? Certainly an appeal to reason would be less destructive. Quite often in human conflicts, nations resort to diplomacy only after force of arms have failed to yield a solution.

Some us have turned to the arena of mind/body medicine after the conventional wisdom of the medical system has failed us. Conventional wisdom is a term attributed to Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith to describe that body of knowledge that is so accepted by peers in a field as to be regarded as truth. He goes on to point out that conventional wisdom is usually flawed and programs based on conventional wisdom are doomed to failure.

Many psychiatrists agree that voodoo can kill. However, it should be noted that this is true only when the practitioner administering the rites and the victim receiving them have both been born and raised in the culture. Such an attempt directed at a modern citizen of mainstream culture would be regarded as ludicrous and would receive only passing attention. It seems odd that there are some physicians who accept this negative side of mind/body medicine while at the same time others scoff at the potential for a positive side.

Modern society has been thoroughly conditioned to respond to beliefs about cancer that are not necessarily true. It is not the all powerful, unstoppable juggernaut that public opinion seems to make it. This book will deal with a disciplined approach to eliciting enhanced immune responses by sending visual images from the conscious to the subconscious mind. One of the pioneers of guided imagery, Dr. O. Carl Simonton notes that 100% of all cancer patients practice guided imagery, most of them without realizing that they are doing so. It starts with that awful moment when a doctor first said, "You’ve got cancer!" Oh what terrible thoughts and recollections that pronouncement conjures up! If one is not careful, these vivid emotions and thoughts of past sufferings of friends or relatives can go to the subconscious as command signals to raise subconscious expectations that are negative in nature.

One recently evolved organization amongst cancer survivors is the "NED Club" (No Evidence of Disease). The dues are exorbitant and the initiation rites are excruciating. Such treatment of war prisoners would not be allowed under the Geneva Convention and our criminal justice system would be forbidden from such cruel and unusual punishment for convicted criminals. On the other hand, the benefits of membership are unbelievably wonderful. It is from the life enriching NED perspective that the author writes this work. While the writer has no medical credentials, neither do most oncologists possess NED credentials. This book is not about alternative medicine. It is rather a recruiting message to other cancer patients to throw off the burdens of preconceived notions and, by taking charge of your healing program, join with us in the benefits of NED. The term, NED, is the brainchild of a Connecticut gentleman by the name of Art Heckler. Art is one of a growing number who have just refused to accept death from metastatic kidney cancer as the only possible outcome.

MAARS is an acronym for Mind Activated Antigen Recognition System. It is highly unlikely that this would mean anything at all to the newly diagnosed cancer patient. To understand this term and the potential for lifesaving contained therein requires an intellectual journey. This work is intended to convey knowledge, skill and attitude. First is the knowledge of the healing potential for mind/body medicine as a complementary, not an alternative, approach to support conventional treatment. Second is the development of a working level of skill in using it. In addition, and most important, is a survivors attitude that can allow the patient to see beyond the gloom of statistics, to the brighter dawn of many tomorrows.

Chapter 1: A GUIDED WALK THROUGH RENAL CELL CANCER

The following account of one person’s struggle with the disease is just that. It is not to be interpreted as a suggestion of "the" way to beat RCC. RCC is a capricious and unpredictable disease such that no two cases are likely to be the exact same. The underlying purpose of this narrative is to suggest that there is a very real and tangible value in hope. Hope is neither true nor false, it is just hope and a beautiful word it is! The desired outcome of a cancer patient reading this story would be an awakening of the realization that "If that so-and-so from Texas can take charge of his healing program and win, then so can I".

... My entry into the medical system was formalized when I got my first look at CT films. I daresay that every cancer patient can vividly recall that defining moment after which life would never be the same. In my case, it was not necessary for me to hear the urologist’s explanation The gelatinous appearing mass where there should have been a left kidney left no doubt to its malevolence. There are those who go into surgery with a prior knowledge of what they are likely to be dealing with as well as those who go under the anesthetic with one problem only to wake up and find that they are now confronting cancer as well. As one of the former, I have no doubt that it is better to face the monster before your energy is sapped by the trauma of the operation. I shall be forever grateful to the doctor for letting me have a few moments to get my mind somewhat prepared to receive the crushing news before he delivered it. It was graphically apparent that I stood at one of life great fork’s in the road and I recall my first question being "What if I just ignore it and do nothing?" (I found out later that this response is referred to as denial.) Then came his terse and correct answer "It will kill you!". It seemed that the high school experience with boxing was being replayed in the form of a certain knowledge that I could stay down from the knockdown punch and it would all be over or I could get up and get back into the fight and be absolutely certain of receiving many punishing blows before a victory could possibly be achieved. I went almost catatonic for several minutes, scarcely aware of the ongoing conversation between doctor and family members. Then, with a strength that I did not know I possessed, I began to mentally face this cancerous monster that had attacked not only my body, but my family and our way of life. From that moment on I have been driven by a compulsion to kill it and its cellular offsprings by any means that I could bring to bear. I immediately determined that I would consider all promising avenues and make my own decisions as to how the program would be managed. With my background being in engineering, I chose to look upon it as just another of those seemingly insurmountable problems which, when solved, will seem simple.

Like so many people, when they find out that they are carrying around a murderous monster, I was in a sweat to get it out. This is a typical mistake that stems from an even worse disease than cancer and that is ignorance. I should have realized at the time that all decisions based on ignorance are apt to be flawed. This is particular true in the case of renal cell [kidney] cancer which is a very rare form of cancer, so much so that your average urologist, while good at the surgical removal may be woefully lacking in state of the art knowledge of follow up procedures. Thus the ignorance of the patient is compounded by the ignorance of the doctor and two times zero is still zero. Naturally, we wanted to put together the best surgical team available in the area and I believe that we did. We had no way of knowing that there were things both mental and physical that should have been done prior to surgery. After seeking the advice of many acquaintances (not one of whom were specialists in RCC), I selected my surgeon feeling that credentials were more important than bedside manner. I felt fortunate that I got both. The earliest that we could schedule an OR team was five days hence. I even considered offering him a bribe to do it sooner. I mention this solely for the benefit of others to point out how blinded I was by an unwarranted sense of urgency. I was to find out later how this cost me in terms of options. I had, after all, been carrying the thing around for months or even years and a couple of weeks spent in libraries, where one can receive treatment for the disease of ignorance, or on the internet would have paid big dividends. When cancer enters, reason tends to fly out the window.

The surgery was performed at a renowned hospital in Dallas. Fortunately, I had spent a few hours reading Dr. Bernie Siegel’s fascinating book, "Love, Medicine and Miracles". The insights into healing gained from this book and certain others were to become as a second bible to me and an ever present comfort ... The operation lasted over seven hours and produced a tumor that weighed about 20 pounds. I have been told that there have been larger ones but so far I haven’t been able to find this documented. I have always tried to be a high achiever and I suppose that to have grown the largest RCC tumor in the history of American medicine is some sort of an achievement. To have done so and walked away from it alive is an even greater achievement. One of the hopes that I had for the experience is that I would have one of those out of body experiences that one hears so much about. Such was not the case. I have since read that there are mechanisms within the human system that allow visual communication from the subconscious mind. I actually had such an experience although it took me several days to realize it. As I was being wheeled in what most assuredly was an unconscious state from the OR to the recovery room, I had a recollection of seeing my oldest son standing at a turn down another corridor giving me a thumbs up sign to indicate that all had gone well. This sign along with his broad smile was of a great deal of comfort to me and gave me a sense of well being. The only problem with this crystal clear recollection is that the event did not happen. As we subsequently determined, my son was several floors away at the time in another wing of the hospital. This experience, whatever its source, did get my recovery off to a good start and I was discharged in near record time. ...

Without realizing it at the time, I was again at another of those inescapable forks in the road to healing. Like so many other RCC patients, I was in a state of euphoria with my surgeon and rightly so since the operation was a thing of beauty. I accepted at face value his belief that he had "got it all". (I have yet to hear of one who didn’t!) In fact, I simply refused to discuss the subject of cancer with anyone else, preferring instead to think that it was all over and I could go on with my life. Some refer to this as denial and I suppose that is correct. I had by now read that RCC is capricious, totally unpredictable and moves in the blood stream towards another target. Nevertheless I pushed it to the back of my mind. I now believe that this amounts to leaving the field to the enemy to do as he pleases with no opposition.

Fall turned to winter and the recovery progressed. From an initial success of barely managing to get aboard my exercise bike, I gradually increased the distance to several miles. I soon discovered that recovery is more a mind game than a physical achievement. With each cold morning came the inevitable aches and pains that tried to suggest to me that the cancer had returned. I recalled that the cancer never actually hurt. I had to mentally tell each of these pains "No, you are not cancer, you are just a residual ache resulting from the cutting and you will eventually go away". With the coming of warm spring days the pains did subside and life started to be good again. When it came time for the March CT scan I was feeling pretty good and when my friend the urology surgeon told me that I was free of cancer, the world did seem a friendly place once again.

Over the next year I found myself reading more and more on the subject of nutrition, in particular as related to cancer. I became mindful of how little my surgeon seemed to know about this subject and how little it had been discussed on follow up visits. In the meantime, at the urging of my RN daughter who worked at a local hospital, my wife (who never did buy into the euphoria scenario) met and discussed RCC with a very understanding oncologist. On one occasion, and against my expressed wishes, she even took my CT films and pathology reports to him for an office visit. Cancer is a family affair and I shall never forget how bravely my devoted wife put herself in the unenviable position of trying to force help on one too headstrong to appreciate it. This kind and understanding doctor assured her that he was there for us if I ever wanted him. I had already been told that kidney cancer was considered a rare form of cancer. Even though roughly 30,000 Americans a year are told they have RCC this is still only one half of one percent of the appalling number of all types of cancer reported yearly. If this does not constitute an epidemic, then it will do until an epidemic comes along. I recall being impressed by the oncologist’s statement to my wife, and later to me, that he didn’t really know a damn thing about RCC but he did have access to all the conventional tools and he thought we might work together in whipping it. This was the first and only time that I have ever heard a doctor admit that he was not an authority on the problem he was attempting to treat. I had the good sense to realize that here was a man with whom I might successfully work should the need arise. I was then on the verge of finding out about a problem that kills over 10,000 Americans a year.

Recall that I was earlier at a fork in the road to healing. Problems began to loom just after I took the wrong path, a mistake that I almost paid for with my life. Realization began to slowly dawn that effective treatment for my disease was twofold in nature and required two distinctly different types of physicians. Initially the requirement was for a fine urology surgeon. An operation of this nature is quite complex and requires a state of the art surgical team. The follow on treatment for RCC is no less complex, made even more so by the capricious and little understood nature of the disease. The basic problem previously referred to is that even a very fine urologist is not likely to have more than a passing knowledge of the treatment and management of metastatic RCC. It is therefore no more logical to bet your life on the surgeon to manage the ongoing treatment than it would have been to expect the oncologist to perform the initial surgery. Far too many urologists have only a passing knowledge of the latest in state of the art treatment for RCC. This would, in itself, not be a problem, if so many of these particular individuals did not proceed to treat with limited knowledge instead of referring the patient to a center of excellence with specialists in RCC.As the year progressed, I developed an increasing awareness, albeit rather casual, in such subjects as guided imagery, meditation and nutrition. ... The Chinese say that confusion is the beginning of knowledge. Knowledge began for me in the spring of 1995. ... Having been assured by the urologist in Dallas that "they never come back in the renal bed", I now faced my first major disconfirmation. The realization that my friend/surgeon could possibly be flawed in his assertions was most disconcerting.

There seemed little else to do but go back to the original surgeon for what I suppose we should refer to as a tertiary opinion of a secondary opinion. My doctor was gently tolerant of me for having gone elsewhere. He chuckled at my idea of the importance of vitamins and nutrition for cancer therapy and sternly cautioned me against ever letting one of those "for profit" hospitals get any more of my money. He assured me that the mass in question was definitely not malignant but to be absolutely sure he wanted to consult with the head of the hospital’s radiology department. This local deity also felt that there was no malignancy. By that time I had read enough on the subject of cancer to realize that the patient must take charge of and be responsible for his or her own treatment program. Failure to do so will result in someone else taking charge and the patient will probably not like the outcome. At this point I had the good sense to ask a life saving question, "Why don’t we do a punch biopsy and there will be one less liar in the house". My doctor must have drawn the short straw, as he later had to call me to say it was, indeed, recurrent RCC. I then arranged for him to re-operate knowing that I would get the best effort that the hospital could muster, out of fear if nothing else. The operation went well and we parted friends.

By the time of the second surgery I had finally "engaged" in the fight with the cancer. No longer content with the false sense of comfort that comes from letting others do all the thinking, I found myself becoming downright proactive. My son had recently read some interesting Internet articles on interleukin 2 (IL-2) that presented it as an effective tool against RCC. When we first mentioned this, one of the doctors literally jumped from his chair, pounded on his desk and said, "Tell your son to quit reading those damn books, Interleukin kills people". We did keep reading, however, and discovered the technique of tumor harvesting. Genetic engineers are presently working in this exciting field. The theory was that the original tumor can be harvested for the cancer fighting T-cells that were in it at the time of the surgical removal. These can be extracted, grown in a bio-reactor and stored in cryo-freeze for possible reinjection into the patient later as Tumor Derived Activated Killer Cells (TDAC). Another possibility is to use antigens extracted from the harvested tumor for the development of a vaccine. I came to realize that, in my rush to the initial surgery, twenty pounds of perfectly good cancerous tumor were thrown into the incinerator. I did require that my surgeon cooperate in the harvesting on the second time around. My son literally stood at the OR door to receive the packaged tumor and then raced to Federal Express for transport to an out-of-state facility. Vaccine therapy research is ongoing worldwide.

Once one enters the brave new world of immunotherapy, the excitement never ends. Surgery is still the weapon of choice for RCC but beyond that the conventional tools of chemotherapy and radiation are not very effective. The use of naturally occurring messenger proteins such as the interleukins and interferons offers broad based hope to many cancer sufferers who prefer to boost the body’s immune system rather than having it suffer collateral damage from the use of chemotherapy agents. Our table-pounding friend was only a few years behind the times. Not only is the killer phase of IL-2 testing well behind us, it was actually approved by the FDA for use against RCC in 1992. Many people have had their treatment programs greatly enhanced as well as their lives saved by IL-2. The second tumor was small and the supply for harvest was limited. The efforts to grow the TDAC were successful. It is of no small consolation to me that there is, in indefinite cryofreeze, roughly a pint of TDAC available for use should the need arise. The efforts to grow the vaccine unfortunately were not successful.

The period following my second surgery might be described as one of "guarded euphoria". My surgeon had now "got it all" not once but twice. I hope that a lifesaving lesson in "ego management" was learned by all concerned. Again I should like to point out the inherently dangerous nature of ignorance, especially when it occurs in high places. As I hear a similar story told over and over by others with whom I have come in contact I have come to the view that the five most dangerous words a cancer patient can say are "I just love my doctor". In fairness to the doctors, I do not believe that they necessarily encourage or even desire this adulation. I believe that it is born of a basic human weakness being that of turning a problem over to someone else rather than choosing a tougher and perhaps even dangerous path where the patient takes charge. This amounts to management of a deadly problem and requires all the resources that the patient can muster. In so doing the patient also assumes the responsibility for the outcome. A deadly game to be sure but who better to play it than the one with total commitment to a favorable outcome. To be sure it feels very awkward at first, even frightening as does driving on the left side in many foreign countries. With the passage of time the going gets better and with this comes a certain degree of self-assurance that sustains the effort.

Immediately after the second surgery, I did what I should have done before the first surgery, and that was to involve an oncologist, independent of the surgical facility. Again, in fairness, so much of cancer treatment involves judgement calls by the doctor. We have no right to demand perfection on the part of others, just their very best. I meant it when I said we parted friends.

Things rocked along very well for a few months until some very worrisome little "ditsels" began to appear in both lungs on the CT films. It was becoming apparent that the nightmare would never end. We decided to wait three months and check again before rushing to judgment. The subsequent check revealed growth. Now we are at another of those forks in the road. Surgery loomed as an option but, after listening to my doctor’s counsel, I decided against it. The TDAC was now ready, but proof of its efficacy was still not forthcoming. After consultations with the research doctor as well as my own oncologist, I decided to embark on a program of IL-2 therapy. Several weeks into this program I managed to locate the wonderful folks at the Kidney Cancer Association in Chicago. This is probably the most patient friendly of all the associations dealing with any form of cancer. Among other benefits, I was given the names of several doctors prominent in the field of RCC. The specialist I chose was at Northwestern University in Chicago, a decision that I regard as lifesaving to this very day. He was very supportive of my choice of treatment. I should point out that there are some very dedicated physicians in the RCC field who generously devote their time and efforts to make it possible for the KCA to wage war on this disease. To borrow from Winston Churchill, never have so many owed so much to so few.

If Il-2 had been my only form of treatment, I well might not have made it. Contemporaneous with the Il-2, I was now wholeheartedly into an organized program of guided imagery, prayer and meditation. I developed the program along lines that were convenient to me, not necessarily to the system. I arranged to have my injections given by my RN daughter. In the early evening of "shot day" I would get a soothing bath, prepare for bed and then devote a lengthy time to meditation and guided imagery. At a time of my choosing, participants from both family and close friends would come to my bedside and we would have a prayer for healing (a beautiful word healing, what a pity one rarely hears it spoken at a cancer center). This was even done with laying on of hands. My little four and five year old grandsons vied for the saying of the prayer. I was awestruck on one occasion when one of the little fellows prayed that the shot would be like a sword to kill that cancer. It seems that that had been the very image that I had been using in private guided imagery sessions and one that he could not possibly have known about. Those interested in pursuing the subject of spiritual healing are referred to that section. At the very least we managed to take a cold and impersonal experience with all its associated discomfort and turn it into a thing of beauty to be fondly remembered by all those who participated.

The treatment program continued for eight long months. The side effects made it seem like the worst case of flu imaginable. At the end of this time I was just about completely worn out. I had found my hopes and expectations shifting from the Il-2 to the guided imagery and prayer. When the CT films of early July showed that we were, if anything, losing the battle, I made the radical decision to go off the Il-2 treatment and continue to develop the guided imagery. This had the effect of elevating the mind-body work to a life or death situation. I think it took this to get me to give it my full focus and attention. Just at that time we found out that a little Episcopalian chapel in our neighborhood was offering a biblical healing service that was open to any and all. This was ideally in line both time and place with the program that I had already declared for. This beautiful and simple service, patterned after that described in the New Testament in the fifth chapter of the book of James was exactly what the patient ordered.

One hears the term "Guided Imagery" used quite frequently these days. Much has been written about it but getting at the "how" of it is not so easy. In this mind-body connecting technique, the user attempts to communicate from the conscious left brain hemisphere to the subconscious right brain by the use of imagery. More importantly, the desired result is for a particular mechanism within the human body to be activated to accomplish a specific purpose. The intended purpose of this particular effort is to locate and kill cancer cells. It seems that the human body was endowed at birth with a marvelous and efficient immune system that can kill any cancer cell that imposes itself unwelcome into the warm hospitality of the host. There are many types of these protector cells such as neutrophils, macrophages, T-cells and natural killer cells. There are even suppressor cells to signal that the battle is over and the body has won. In those cases where the immune system fails to trigger and the cancer grows unmolested, the visualizations of guided imagery seek to sound the alarm and send these friendly warriors into the battle. The technique begins in relaxation and peace of mind and there are specific exercises by which the user can bring this about. Beyond relaxation are the visualization techniques that are personalized to the individual and require intense mental focus, discipline and time to perform effectively. These usually involve animation of some sort as well as the use of colors. It should be emphasized that this is not a quick fix for something as voracious as cancer. Many people are eager to get started until they find out the amount of dedication and discipline required for success. Most that I have discussed this with seem to prefer after second thought to just leave it to the doctor and hope for the best.

It should be understood that this is not "alternative medicine". Far from it, this technique can be a powerful compliment to modern medicine and it is in this light that it should be viewed. Many doctors due to unfamiliarity or merely disbelief chose to dispose of the topic by referring to it as alternative medicine thereby casting it in the same light as "quack" remedies. There is absolutely no excuse for any oncologist to be unfamiliar with the good results that this modality has experienced, usually with the "terminally" ill. To deny this technique to a patient by not even bringing it to the patients attention is the deadliest form of paternalism and is inexcusable. Even worse is the cautioning against raising "false hope". Hope is neither true nor false, it is simply hope and a beautiful word it is. False hope is no hope and to take away a person’s hope by pseudo-authoritative pronouncement is tantamount to taking life.

In my lifelong career as an engineer, I learned to live by a pragmatic approach in which I learned to believe what I see. Engineers are not afforded the luxury of living by bedside manner, popular opinions or even good intentions. If the calculations are not precisely correct then the machine will explode or the bridge will collapse when traffic crosses. We continually seek to observe cause/effect relationships from which to draw empirical conclusions. This all came to a head for me when the CT films for October, after three months off medical treatment, were put up on the viewscreen. When the oncologist exclaimed, "Well I’ll be a son of a bitch", I knew that something had changed. The "problem" was that three of the ditsels had disappeared completely and the two largest had shrunk down to nubbins. This was confirmed by the doctor at Northwestern whose kind and gentle manner I shall always treasure and never forget.

Quite a bit of time has gone by since those terrible days of 1996. Much of the anguish and anxiety has receded into a dim memory. The tests keep coming back the same always including the troublesome little "ditsels". It was necessary for my peace of mind to deal with them and I was able to do this in a very straightforward manner. I was in attendance at the Seattle meeting of the KCA when an excellent paper was presented on Positron Emission Tomography (PET). This marvelous diagnostic machine resembles a CT machine in outward appearance but is totally different in methodology. Active cancer cells ingest glucose at a much faster rate than do normal cells and certainly faster than dead cells. The patient is injected with a vial of activated fluorodioxyglucose and time is allowed for circulation. The machine then looks for "hot spots". Cancer "mets" will then light up like a Christmas tree. Dead tissue will not light up at all. My little "ditsels" did not show "uptake" at all indicating they were dead. Reassurance is such a wonderful thing. What is surprising about PET is that so few oncologists seem to be aware of it. The technique is almost as old as CT. It has been used more in heart and Alzheimer’s studies although it is finally coming into its own in the cancer arena. Generally speaking, the docs who have access to PET will speak well of it, while those who do not will typically dismiss it as either too costly or as merely a research tool, neither of which is strictly true. All cancer patients should at least be aware of this diagnostic modality.

I suppose there are those who will ask, "Where does this leave the rest of us?" There are those who willingly accept this as a case of patient directed self-healing. Most tend to be skeptical contending that the Il-2 has finally "kicked in". I always make it a point to ask these skeptics why it didn’t kick in during those eight long months of continuing injections. Many will simply say that I experienced a remission. To this I ask, "How does one describe the mechanics of remission?" because to speak of a phenomena without understanding its elements is not even the beginning of knowledge. I do not mean to give the impression that I am against the use of drugs such as Il-2. It is my personal belief that God, working through gifted and dedicated people, gives us these gifts of healing. The purpose of this narrative is to acquaint my fellow patients with the enormous wealth of resources available to us to compliment the miracles already available to us from modern medicine. This should be viewed in addition to, not instead of! I would particularly recommend that a patient become well versed in the works of some of the better credentialled workers in the field. My first brush was with the Jose Silva method. When I was too sick from the Il-2 to attend, I paid my daughters tuition to an AMA sponsored seminar in our area. For guided imagery I would recommend the works of Drs. Marty Rossman and Carl Simonton. Dr. Bernie Siegel of Yale University has done a marvelous job of popularizing these concepts. Any cancer patient would be well advised to read Norman Cousins’ masterpiece "The Anatomy of an Illness".

As for me, I am interested in the efforts of the Complementary Care Center at Columbia University in New York. My wife and I recently took their program and found it of immense value. Knowing what I now know I would approach the first surgery a bit differently. I would spend three or four days at Columbia or similar facility contemporaneous with a program of immune boosting and then and only then would I go to surgery. If the anesthesiologist would not play meditation tapes through a headset to me during the operation then I would find one that would.

continue to Part 2 of book excerpt

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