a new story about cancer

My sister sent me a link yesterday to a webinar on YouTube with Zach Bush MD called “It’s time to tell a new story about cancer”. It is indeed.

Now, I’m interested in anything that involves Zach Bush. He is an incredibly knowledgeable man who marries Science and Spirituality with great skill. Like another of my favourites – Albert Einstein. If you haven’t made his acquaintance on YouTube already, can I suggest you have a listen. All of what he says may not be to your liking, but he seems to know what he is talking about, and the wisdom, compassion and fluency with which he delivers his knowledge is compelling.

The webinar is about The Cancer Story Project. This project was launched in July 2020 by a woman called Cheryl Buck who in 2016 “was one of 1.6 million people who heard the words “you have cancer”. For the previous decade she had been researching cancer and other chronic diseases from a nutritional standpoint, focusing on Indigenous cultures and their awareness of the intrinsic healing power of the body and the earth. Her mission through the Cancer Story Project is “to tell a new story about cancer that empowers someone who has it and the people and community around them to embrace the cancer journey in a new way”.

Wonderful news that someone has started a global movement to change the story about cancer. It needs to happen. Enough of these ridiculous and fear-inducing labels of “cancer victim”, “cancer sufferer”, war against cancer, fight, battle, “lost the battle” blah blah blah. A negative language of warfare has been attached to cancer that reinforces the fear and does nothing to inspire hope. The whole cancer system of Oncology needs a complete overhaul including honest and open discussion about how effective at prolonging life the treatments really are. If they aren’t greatly effective, but it is all that is available at the moment, let everyone know so they are free to make their own choices and decisions about how they wish their body to be treated without being pressured (yes, pressured) into using the limited toolbox of treatments that Oncology currently has. There is a very interesting and disturbing article that can be found at https://www.icnr.com/articles/ischemotherapyeffective.html which discusses the use of relative risk rather than absolute risk in reporting the effectiveness of chemotherapy on the commonest types of cancer. In my opinion, it is all about making informed decisions, and that is very difficult to do in the current Oncology “bubble”. One, Oncologists are often not happy when their treatments are questioned, and it seems that they are not always privy to the facts about efficacy themselves if this article is to be believed. (An editorial in the Australian Prescriber dated 1 Feb 2006 regarding the article provides a seemingly balanced review. I leave you to make up your own mind). Two, they only generally believe in the treatments they have been trained to recommend, and three, it is very difficult to think rationally when you are being pressured to take urgent action and you are in a state of shock.

For medical treatment of cancer to change and become more holistic and less purely physically focused – the change is going to have to be requested by the people. If an Oncologist recommends treatment, every patient has the right, and should, request evidence of the efficacy of that treatment for the type of cancer they have. I am a bit cynical about statistics – especially as according to statistics I should have died ten years ago. Medicine is very, very slowly becoming a little more receptive to “complementary” treatments, but most of the money contributed to research is still being poured into looking for a pharmaceutical answer to the disease. This is awfully one-eyed, but understandable. The pharmaceutical companies are the only companies rich enough to do the trials, and they have convinced the majority of the population and definitely the medical profession, that drugs are the only viable option. Unfortunately, many wonderful “alternative” treatments only have “anecdotal” commendations due to the prohibitive cost of double blind trials. And anecdotal doesn’t mean much in the science of medicine.

I have privately been beating the drum for re-framing cancer for a decade now, and for the last 9 months more publicly through this blog. A few people have told me they used to be afraid of cancer, but now aren’t through watching my experience in living with it for many years. I hope that others also through this blog have lost some fear as well. This has been my intention – to share my journey, my learning, to help other people experience cancer not as the worst thing that has happened to them, but rather as an opportunity to stop and take stock of their life and the way they are living then take steps to live in a way that brings maximum joy and peace and love. This is what life is really about. Everything else is a distraction – but “everything else” has taken first place in our culture and we have unconsciously adopted the mindset and lived it out. It has brought us to a place of dis-ease. We are not at ease – proof lies in the constant increase of depression, anxiety, mental illness, addictions and chronic illness in the human race. These are not the fruits of an enlightened culture. They are the fruits of a dysfunctional and dis-connected one.

Perhaps cancer is a gift to humanity. It is a pause, a prompting to go within. To halt the busyness and re-align, however it is very difficult to do this when you are consumed with fear. Cancer is a very powerful word. It has the ability to change your life. Whether for better or worse is your choice. How we experience cancer is always going to be our choice. Whether we experience it isn’t.

Cancer brings with it the opportunity to confront and accept our own mortality instead of ignoring it. Ironically, embracing death teaches us how to really live. How to be more present, more grateful, more joyful. Isn’t that a good thing?. Anyone out there not want to be more present in each moment, more grateful and more joyful? Anyone out there prefer to be more fearful, more agitated, more depressed because they have cancer?

Its your choice.

I don’t think this notion of choice really sinks in for many people, because I see people constantly choosing to continue to suffer unnecessarily. For some reason it seems like a totally impractical and abstract idea that simply choosing to perceive cancer (or anything in life) in a different way can radically improve the quality of your life. Perhaps it is too simple. Or it seems like too much work. We have been trained to expect a magic pill to cure our physical and mental woes so we can just continue on living in the same way that caused us to end up with the woes in the first place. Someone said (it is attributed to Albert Einstein but there is no evidence that he actually said it) “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Hmm

I decided thirteen years ago that suffering was no longer an option for me. I’d had enough of fear and anxiety. It didn’t take me long to realise that it was only my mind that caused me to suffer. Life happens. It just is. It is our minds that attach meaning to it. Both collectively and individually. The meaning that we attach to it will either bring us peace or suffering. Its really that simple.

Viewing cancer as a gift-bearer will attach a positivity and purpose to it that will carry you through with much greater ease than viewing cancer as a fearful threat. Cancer can help us to heal relationships, forge deeper connections, build our personal community, make us stronger, more resilient and compassionate… If we embrace the experience and be open. Through cancer we can discover how loved and valued we are by those around us. We can open to healing the trauma and hurts of the past. Become more free.

Cancer can be a liberation.

Or it can be a terrifying diversion away from life as we planned it.

Its our choice.

I will never advise someone not to have chemotherapy. I firmly believe that everyone must choose what feels right for them at the time, however I question the wisdom of poisoning the whole body as a treatment for a disease. It doesn’t make any sense to me. The fact that the body is an incredible organism designed to heal itself and restore balance, is never more in evidence than when it recovers from the effects of chemotherapy. We really need to trust the body’s innate ability to heal and support that fully. Unfortunately, most Oncologists do not yet recommend their patients support their body through nutrition and mind. The advent of Integrative Oncology is a really positive step forward – however it may be a while before it becomes standard practice.

There are exciting new frontiers in mind-body medicine being explored by people like Joe Dispenza, Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, Bruce Lipton, Greg Braden, Dr Melissa Rankin, Kelly Turner Ph.d and Dr Zach Bush to name but a few, and to have their learning incorporated into mainstream treatment of cancer and other chronic diseases would, I believe, improve outcomes and reduce suffering dramatically. This is only going to happen in the near future if people are open with their Oncologists and medical staff about the techniques and modalities they are using in addition to those recommended by the Oncologist.

So, let’s create a new story about cancer. One that enables us to live through the experience with equanimity, taking anything that arises in our stride, being peaceful and happy. It is possible. I’m doing it. More and more people are doing it.

It’s part of our evolution.

It’s all good.

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