I believe that the future of medicine in our culture will be a peaceful partnership between Alternative and Allopathic Medicine. And, for me, the future began two years ago, when I let go of my lifelong distrust of doctors and let one help me save my life.
On April 28, 2007, I felt something in my lower abdomen. I lay on my back and looked down at my naked body. There was a swelling on my left side. I knew I was going to have to take action – and quickly. Two days later, I was diagnosed with cancer. Two kinds: uterine and ovarian. It was the beginning of a journey that combined two kinds of healing: allopathic and alternative.
With the discovery of aggressively growing tumor on my left ovary, I was more than ready to have it surgically removed, and as soon as possible, but I wasn’t going to surrender my brain at the door of the hospital. Nor would I abandon my belief system, which was all about alternative healing: healing which had, at its center, trust in the synergy of the Universal Energy Field, the Healer Within and the innate healing properties of the plants of the earth…fruits, vegetables, herbs and herbal supplements. I wanted to live, and believed I would, and though I felt scared, I trusted that I would receive all the information and resources necessary to heal and thrive.
I read, researched, talked with mentors and actively participated. And what I found was that the willingness to take responsibility – not blame, but responsibility – was a major plus for me in terms not only of my healing, but my sense of well-being throughout my recovery. I didn’t feel like a victim, but a woman in a transformation experience. This attitude, I believe, made all the difference for me and can make the difference for anyone who’s facing a cancer diagnosis or any physical challenge. It makes one’s healing meaningful. And meaning, as Viktor Frankel observed, can keep you alive. Not only can it help you live, but inspire an inner change that will help you emerge a stronger, happier person than you were before.
Alternative healing is characterized, in part, by meaning and in part by client participation, or the very least, willingness to allow a Higher Power to come into the situation and clear it up. It is understood by practitioners that the client is in a healing crisis. That something within him or her is out of alignment with the natural state of Flow. Alternative Healing is about helping the client get back in that Flow. It is understood also that the disease is a helpful signal. It lets us know that we need to get ourselves back in synch, beginning with taking a look at (or listening to)our thought process.
Contrary to the old paradigm belief or the solely allopathic model, cancer is not a thing that appears randomly in some sort of cosmic lottery or something that can be removed with metal tools and then poisoned and zapped out of existence. It’s a process which begins, like all that is created, at the level of thought. Then it somatizes; it comes into the body and is exacerbated by lifestyle choices. Simply put, cancer is about what you’re eating and what’s eating you, in reverse order of importance. If you want to prevent disease or heal it, you’re going to need to forgive. And, you’re going to have to make some changes in the way you live.
Even though the scalpel may remove the tumor, since the disease effects the whole of its host/creator, the whole self must disinvite the disease and anchor wellness. In my own healing process, besides doing the inner work I knew I had to do, I researched diet, finding stunning similarities between the cancer-healing diets of Edgar Cayce and that suggested by the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education, which is based on growing edge clinical research.
I resolved the few differences between these sources with my own intuitive work and came up with a diet that can be fine-tuned for anyone who wants to heal from or prevent cancer. Bottom line: an alkaline diet rich in veggies and fruits, fiber, nuts and (non-peanut) legumes and, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry and eggs.
I am certain that the holistic modalities that I used to complement my medical care were important factors in my healing: Hypnotherapy, Self-Hypnosis, Meditation, Massage (both traditional and lymphatic drainage), Reiki, Sacro-cranial treatments, Acupuncture, Emotional Freedom Technique and Affirmative Prayer. Without them I believe my disease would have progressed faster; with them my recovery speeded up and my body healed not only from the disease but from the potentially devastating effects of the treatment.
In addition to self-Reiki and my own prayers, I asked many people to do prayer and Reiki for me, including many of my friends and colleagues, the Virginia Tech Reiki Club and the global healing group Humanity Healing. I received Reiki from Christopher Baldwin Buck, co-founder of Humanity Healing, who traveled all the way from Richmond, VA, to Wernersville, PA, to work with me. I was astounded at this kindness and that of so many healers like Chris and our friend Saurab Marjara, a young Indian man I’ve yet to meet in person, all of whom were sending me energy. Chris told me between bites of pie, as we sat together chatting, “Liane [co-Founder of Humanity Healing] and I wanted to explore the potential of what can be done…experiment with focusing the energy of the group. We decided to make you our guinea pig.”
And, did I ever feel it! One day, as I was sitting at the computer, I began to feel woozy. And I thought, “Oh, I recognize this feeling; I’m getting Reiki.” But it was much stronger and more intense than single-person Reiki. Then I realized that many people were doing prayer and Reiki at the same time. I felt it pulsating throughout my body, said “thank you” to everyone involved, and went to lay down.
I found meaning in being part of something larger than myself, in this beautiful circle of healing…just as I had within a week of my diagnosis, when my friend and colleague, Joann Abrahamsen, managing director of the Association to Advance Ethical Hypnosis, responded to my call to prayer with her own call. “Sure I’ll pray for you,” she said. And, would you like to come present at the Annual Conference in the fall on the visualizations you are creating for yourself?”
And so, I realized, “Oh, this isn’t just for me,” and I began to plan my talk, with the intention that my outline would be the beginning of a book to help other cancer patients and the people that love them. When later I shared bits of my journal, I discovered that people who didn’t have cancer responded to it, too, saying that they were deriving inspiration from reading it. And then I got that it wasn’t just for cancer patients…the process of healing I was documenting was for anyone facing a serious life challenge. I called it the Stages of Becoming, because when you use adversity as a growth tool you come out stronger, happier, lighter and more radiantly who you really are.
“Becomingness” is one of the essential characteristics of Alternative Healing. Alternative Healing is for the whole being. The hypnotherapist doesn’t just hypnotize the head, s/he relaxes the body/mind. The Reiki Master doesn’t send Reiki to the points only, but the whole Being. The Acupuncturist’s needles open up the flow…to open to that Flow that we all participate in. For cancer patients who choose to undergo surgery and/or treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, I believe it is helpful to include the medical doctors in one’s concept of “that Flow that we all participate in.”
There is room for everyone in that Flow. Though we may resist this notion in our attachment to strategies for healing (as I certainly did), everyone can benefit from detaching from the means that healing must take, opening up to all avenues for healing. Remember the story of the guy on the roof in the flood who refused to be airlifted because he was waiting for God to save him…and then God says, “I sent you a helicopter…why didn’t you accept the ride?”
I chose to embrace my treatment and to use all of it, including and especially the loss of my hair, as a spiritual growth prompt. It’s all grist for the mill. In my own imagery, I blessed the surgeon and everyone involved in my healing process and affirmed that my body was maximizing the benefits from chemo and minimizing any side effects. I believe the notion that we are at war with allopaths is as harmful as any notion of war between brothers and sisters. And what is cancer but war between parts of ourselves…or who we think we are? What we really are is One!
Let’s affirm peaceful partnership and quietly educate. And let’s be grateful in advance that our respect for alternative medicine makes its impact in the minds of older physicians who are ready to think outside the box and younger ones who are naturally open from the get-go. And let’s be grateful that every challenge that we experience, whether it’s about our health or “other tough stuff” helps us in our process of Becoming who we really are.