Healing Cancer & the Power of Your Mind (XXXIII)

Intensive meditation in the treatment of “terminal” metastatic cancer

A powerful healing tool capable of inducing remission?

Copyright © 2009 & 2010 Healing Cancer Naturally

While at first sight it may sound hard to believe that meditation should have much (or anything) to do with recovery from "terminal" metastasized cancer, in my function as an "investigative cancer reporter" I recently came across the below 30 year old “terminal” cancer cure testimonial which, to my surprise, was said to involve meditation as a major healing “player” (but see this important Update June 2010).


Cancer cure testimonial described as having involved a vegan diet and intensive meditation in a case of disseminated osteogenic sarcoma: metastases regressed and no recurrence of cancer even thirty years later

The report purportedly describing the history of this astounding healing was written by Australian psychiatrist and hypnotherapist Dr. Ainsley Meares and originally published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) in 1978. Since to date I haven’t been able to retrieve the original article, the following summary is based on several later sources such as the “Thirty-year follow-up at pneumonectomy of a 58-year-old survivor of disseminated osteosarcoma” (2008) written by George A Jelinek and Ruth H Gawler and published in the same journal[4]. This follow-up article reports on the same case, still cancer-free, 30 years after his surprising recovery.

In 1974, a 24 year old man was diagnosed with high-grade osteogenic sarcoma (endosteal osteosarcoma) of the right femur (thighbone) which was histologically confirmed. As the authors of the above follow-up report observe, “At the time of this patient’s diagnosis, osteosarcoma was a devastating disease with very low survival rates.”

In spite of having his right leg amputated in January 1975, extensive bony and pulmonary metastases were diagnosed as early as December 1975. While given just 2–3 weeks to live in March 1976, he survived until September of the same year. Following three subsequent (unsuccessful) rounds of palliative chemotherapy (involving the administration of vincristine, adriamycin, cyclophosphamide and dacarbazine) and some radiotherapy, the patient chose to stop these treatments since his condition failed to improve and continued to worsen instead.

The patient tried many alternative treatments and modalities, including acupuncture, faith healing, massage etc. He strictly followed the Gerson juicing-based diet for three months, and subsequently adopted a wholefood vegan diet[1].

When consulting Dr. Ainslie Meares, he presented with extensive bony tumours protruding from his chest wall and was coughing up blood containing "needles" made of bone.

After learning from Dr. Meares to meditate (likely in the form of the "Stillness Meditation"[2] developed by Dr. Meares) and practicing intensive meditation for 3 to 5 hours a day, the patient's metastases regressed (his osteogenic secondaries being resorbed). After this spectacular recovery, he returned to full-time work.

Both the patient and Dr. Meares felt that taking up intensive meditation was the central component in his remarkable recovery, which as mentioned, has lasted to this day with no recurrence of cancer thirty years later. (The patient however has been suffering from tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia and elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) which is thought to be related to damage to his immune system (immunosuppression) sustained while undergoing three cycles of chemotherapy. All this nonwithstanding, “the patient was well enough to go trekking in Nepal for three weeks in 1999 to a height of about 16 000 feet above sea level”.)

The formerly terminal cancer patient has founded and is running self-help groups for cancer patients, teaching them to meditate themselves. He continues to regularly meditate.

On meditation and its possible healing benefits

A great number of positive effects, both mental, physical and spiritual, have been ascribed to various forms of meditation, including relaxing the mind and body, altering a person’s consciousness, receiving inspiration and strengthening the immune system.

Meditation and its wide range of observed physical and psychological effects have also been the subject of numerous studies, see for instance the comprehensive review of scientific research on the subject (formerly?) published by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in book form[3].

Authored by Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan, this review among other things discusses research done on meditation's effects on the cardiovascular system (blood flow, blood pressure, hypertension), EEG (alpha brainwave activity ["Evidence indicating that meditation leads to an increase in alpha rhythms ... is extensive"], theta brainwave activity, hemispheric synchronization/coherence), adrenal, thyroid, plasma prolactin and growth hormone levels, cholesterol, muscle tension, the metabolic and respiratory systems, skin resistance, brain metabolism, changes in body temperature, perceptual and cognitive abilities, concentration and attention, memory and intelligence, creativity and self-actualization, empathy, addiction and chemical dependency, sleep, feelings of equanimity, detachment, ineffability, bliss, clearer perception, energy and excitement, altered body image and ego boundaries, and dreams. It also discusses research related to meditation and extrasensory experiences, mystical phenomena, meditation's effectiveness in the treatment of various diseases and the alleviation of pain.

A study by the University of Wisconsin's Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, "Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation" reported sustained alterations in brain and immune function following meditation (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/12883106).

Such a stimulation of the body's immune response achieved via the medium of meditation may account for the dramatic recovery reported in the above testimonial.

Other factors might also, such as a greater "spiritual connection", enhanced intuition, higher guidance etc. brought forth and about by the contemplative nature of meditation.

Even natural health heavyweight Dr. Mercola has meanwhile embraced as factual the concept that human beings actually have several “bodies”. There is of course the one we perceive with our physical eyes, the physical body, but there are also other “subtle energy bodies” relating to our emotions, mind, spirituality etc. Diseases can initially start in any of these bodies, and hence, to successfully cure them at their true source it would be necessary to address and heal the specific “body” which is the originating cause.[5]

This is where meditation may come in. By enabling the meditator to expand in consciousness and connect to sources of wisdom, insight and healing not normally within his or her reach, meditation might sometimes/frequently be very helpful. Also, as stated by some, “Cancer stands for Change” (see Some Thoughts on Healing) and this change for the better in all aspects may be facilitated by the practice of meditation.

Does one need to meditate 3 to 5 hours per day to reap the same benefits as the above cancer victor? I wouldn't know but it seems unlikely. Above all, one should always remember that there are many ways people have healed themselves from cancer at virtually any stage, for an inspirational overview see for instance Testimonials.

References

Apart from K. Pelletier who in 1977 reported the successful use of meditation and visualization with people afflicted with cancer, it's only Dr. Meares who seems to repeatedly have covered the subject of meditation and cancer by publishing a number of anecdotal studies and articles in several medical journals, reporting on the use of meditation in the treatment of cancer. Here is a listing of his work:

Regression of osteogenic sarcoma metastases associated with intensive meditation. The Medical journal of Australia. 1978 Oct 21;2(9):433.

Regression of cancer after intensive meditation. Medical Journal of Australia. 1976 Jul 31;2(5):184.

Psychological mechanisms in the regression of cancer. "The Medical journal of Australia". 1983 Jun 11;1(12):583-4.

A form of intensive meditation associated with the regression of cancer. "The American journal of clinical hypnosis”. 1982 Oct-1983 Jan;25(2-3):114-21.

Stress, meditation and the regression of cancer. "The Practitioner". 1982 Sep;226(1371):1607-9.

Cancer, psychosomatic illness, and hysteria. "Lancet". 1981 Nov 7;2(8254):1037-8.

What can the cancer patient expect from intensive meditation? Australian Family Physician, 1980 May;9(5):322-325.

The relief of anxiety through relaxing meditation. Australian Family Physician, 1976 Aug;5(7):906-910.

Regression of recurrence of carcinoma of the breast at mastectomy site associated with intensive meditation. Australian Family Physician, 1981 Mar;10(3):218-219.

Our attitude of mind in the psychological treatment of cancer. The Australian nurses' journal". 1980 Feb;9(7):29-30.

Remission of massive metastasis from undifferentiated carcinoma of the lung associated with intensive meditation. The Journal of the American Society of Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine". 1980;27(2):40-1.

Regression of cancer of the rectum after intensive meditation. The Medical journal of Australia. 1979 Nov 17;2(10):539-40.

The psychological treatment of cancer: the patient's confusion of the time for living with the time for dying. "Australian family physician" 1979 Jul;8(7):801-5.

Mind and cancer. Lancet. 1979 May 5;1(8123):978.

Meditation: a psychological approach to cancer treatment. "The Practitioner". 1979 Jan;222(1327):119-22.

The quality of meditation effective in the regression of cancer. "The Journal of the American Society of Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine". 1978;25(4):129-32.

Vivid visualization and dim visual awareness in the regression of cancer in meditation. "The Journal of the American Society of Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine". 1978;25(3):85-8.

Regression of cancer after intensive meditation followed by death. "The Medical journal of Australia". 1977 Sep 10;2(11):374-5.

Atavistic regression as a factor in the remission of cancer. "The Medical journal of Australia". 1977 Jul 23;2(4):132-3.

Footnotes

1 A plant-based diet excluding all animal-derived products, even honey.

2 ...characterised by ... absence of technique or effort of any kind. Participants are advised to sit in a mildly uncomfortable position, practice a progressive muscle relaxation technique and then allow the mind to experience stillness.”

3 In any case, the IONS still provides a searchable bibliography of meditation research, aiming "to provide access to citations for all scientific research studies into meditation that have been published in English" at http://biblio.noetic.org/.

4 See www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/19061466. Free full text formerly made available at www.mja.com.au/public/issues/189_11_011208/jel11032_fm.pdf.

5 For scientific background on the multi-level human energy field and related subjects, see Cancer Healing & Energetics and Books on Energy and Vibrational Medicine.

Important Update June & September 2010

Healing Cancer Naturally recently was contacted by the life partner of the above cancer patient’s former wife named Gayle (now Grace) Gawler. He informed me that the above story detailing Ian Gawler’s recovery was very much misrepresenting the facts and that neither meditation nor a vegan diet were regularly adhered to or responsible for his recovery. He told me that without Gayle (now Grace) Gawler’s 24-hour care for her former husband, he would not have survived the ordeal. He also pointed me to a book detailing what truly transpired in this healing journey, excerpts of which can be read at Google Books by searching for “Grace Gawler: Grace, Grit and Gratitude”.

More of their account of what truly happened to allow Ian Gawler’s recovery can be read in “Meditation and a vegan diet were NOT key factors in Ian Gawler’s recovery" as well as in a recently (September 2010) published Medical Journal of Australia article entitled "Cancer Patients at Risk from Inaccurate Clinical Reporting in a High-Profile Story: Comment and Corrections" found at www.mja.com.au/public/issues/193_06_200910/letters_200910_fm-1.html (only available upon subscription; as Pip Cornall put it, a “misreported high profile medical history that has changed the face of complementary and alternative medicine in Australia and around the world for thirty years has been irrefutably corrected in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia – Sept 20 2010”).

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