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Messages of Cancer
by Dr. Joel Brame

Cancer gives messages. It screams messages at us. I just finished spending eight straight days immersed in the study of pharmacology. I emerged with an insight that I had not had before. I realized that our body is never trying to harm or kill us, although we might interpret it as such. Instead, it is just trying to send us messages. As an example, for those who smoke, lung cancer is the ultimatum, the message that says, "Stop smoking or else." Once the patient acknowledges the message and takes appropriate action, their chances of long-term survival are significantly improved. In these cases we hear the patient say, "Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me."

For the past 10 years, I have researched how international cancer specialists deal with cancer. The goal was to tap into their years of experience and find out exactly what they thought would give a person with cancer the best chance for recovery and long-term survival. Although they reside in far-apart countries such as Switzerland, Canada, and China, and have different educational backgrounds, these cancer specialists have had similar experiences on what can make the difference. In particular, three messages of cancer seemed to stand out above the others, and so I'd like to share those with you.

First, I need to share a few of my fundamental beliefs, because they provide framework for this discussion. I'll be brief here, but many of them are discussed extensively in my book Modern World, Modern Health.

1) The body is continuously moving toward a state of health; 2) the importance of seeking the cause of illness rather than just managing symptoms; 3) emotions are at the center of almost every chronic illness; 4) cancer is a process. The last one means that the tumor is not the cancer; cancer is the long-term underlying process that culminates in the tumor. These beliefs have been invaluable guidelines in my own quest for health, and will help to clarify the three primary messages of cancer.

1.) The first message of cancer, above all else, is nutrition. Because nutrition is so important, I dedicated a large portion of my book to helping others make effective diet choices amidst the endless options. Last year, I asked Kang-Pang Chan, a naturopathic doctor and friend in China, "From your personal perspective, what above all else is the key determinant of long-term survival for cancer patients?" He said that, although many things are important, an improvement in nutrition habits stands above all others. These changes include ramping up intake of nutritious whole foods and toning down intake of synthetic, processed foods. The body is yelling out loud, "I need real fuel and now, otherwise I can't do my job of keeping you protected from cancer anymore."

As both Dr. Chan and Harvey Bigelson, MD, Mexico, have pointed out, good quality nutrition is worth the effort. Cancer patients dramatically improve their long-term survival by focusing their efforts on choosing foods that are alkalinizing, antioxidant-rich, and energizing. Those undergoing conventional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy certainly need extra energy for recovery, and 40% of cancer patients who don't survive are not killed by the cancer itself but die from malnutrition (called cachexia). Also, despite the controversy, overwhelming international research shows that antioxidant supplementation indeed prolongs survival in those undergoing chemotherapy.

2.) The psychology. According to author/speakers Neil McKinney, ND, Lawrence LeShan, PhD, and Thomas Rau, MD, cancer contains a message that goes far beyond the physical realm. Cancer delivers a message on the emotional and spiritual realm. According to these doctors, recognizing and processing this deeper message makes a difference in survival. Dr. McKinney of Vancouver, Canada said that he has seen patients who go into remission overnight by "heeding the message" of love and forgiveness that cancer often presents.

Dr. Rau, who sees hundreds of cancer patients each week at his Switzerland clinic, applies anthroposophical and Chinese medicine in his work with them, along with his other conventional and natural approaches. His approach is incredibly comprehensive. He told me that cancer messages frequently involve a disturbance in the person's role or identity. The patient's mission or purpose is suddenly taken away, such as the young mother losing a child, or the woman sacrificing her own ambitions to serve her husband's desires, or perhaps the senior executive who gets fired and is diagnosed with colon cancer one year later.

Not every person who has an experience like this develops cancer, but about 90% of cancer patients have had a role-changing experience one or two years before the cancer diagnosis. The cancer emerges to encourage them to examine how they have dealt with this experience. Once they work through this process, and they "hear the message" of the cancer, the cancer is no longer "needed" - remission can occur more freely.

3.) The third message warns the patient of underlying damaging processes that lead to cancer. In a Las Vegas conference earlier this year, Dr. Patrick Quillin, RD, who served as Director of Nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America for over a decade, was lecturing on his experiences with cancer. He said that if he were to boil down all his knowledge and experience of cancer to one aspect, it would be this: Cancer is an opportunistic illness that grows amidst a toxic body environment. In other words, cancer gives a message that the body is toxic and improperly regulated. It says, "For the last time, clean yourself up!"

Cancer thrives within a body that is oxygen- and nutrient-deprived, and full of sugar, elevated "heat" reactions, and altered immunity. The conditions associated with this type of situation are well-recognized, such as high blood pressure and anemia (oxygen deprivation), bloating and fatigue (nutrient deprivation), hyperglycemia and diabetes (full of sugar), inflammatory processes such as arthritis and sinusitis ("heat" reactions), and allergies and frequent colds (altered immunity). For those with cancer, resolving these other illnesses helps create a healthier environment that does not support cancer processes. When I say "resolving", I mean getting to the root cause of the problem, not just concealing symptoms with medications.

These three messages of cancer are there to help us, not harm us. They are part of our body's infinite wisdom to get us to treat it well. In his book Beating Cancer with Nutrition, Dr. Quillin says to "Fix What's Broke". In other words, every cancer patient is a unique individual, and each person's cause of the cancer is different. For some patients, psychological counseling is the key, and others may need to focus on detoxification or heavy metal cleansing.

I encourage those with cancer (or looking to prevent cancer) to listen--to become quiet and still, and then really listen to what the cancer may be saying. To facilitate a deeper listening, there are many techniques that can be helpful. I personally have found that daily or weekly journaling can bring out hidden thoughts and emotions, especially handwriting the journal entry with the non-dominant hand. For some people, meditating on questions such as, "What is my cancer trying to tell me" has been illuminating, or perhaps drawing an illustration the answer to these questions. Try to let go of the mind and get into the heart, which I know is sometimes not easy but is worth the effort.

The message of cancer may involve a topic that is uncomfortable, and it may be something the person has always known but would have preferred to avoid. I can tell you from experience that if you feel a sense of fear or discomfort during these exercises, this is often an important clue that you are close to discovering the message. Most cancer messages involve topics that stir up difficult emotions. However, if the discomfort is tolerable, keep going and push through, trying to be as honest with yourself as humanly possible. This takes great courage, but there is deep wisdom in the old adage, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Once the messages begin to reveal themselves, you will quickly gain clarity about what needs to be done to deal with them. Often, this is when I suggest using teamwork to your advantage. I recommend visiting with a holistic physician who is trained in both conventional and natural approaches to health. This can include licensed naturopaths, chiropractors, and some osteopaths and medical doctors. For those in the Phoenix valley area, they can contact me for consultations or cancer coaching (602-561-4376, joel@joelbrame.com, or Dan Rubin, ND, who provides cancer consultations and treatments www.rubinmedical.com. I also recommend all those who prefer natural approaches to health to read my new book Modern World, Modern Health. It shares an empowering perspective on the natural healthcare scene and gives you simple but powerful ideas to help you improve your long-term health.


Dr. Joel Brame is a licensed naturopathic physician living and working in Arizona. He has researched and worked with cancer patients in a variety of roles for the past 11 years. Dr. Brame recently published the book Modern World, Modern Health www.mwmh.com, and serves as director of "Private Cancer Coaching", where he provides in-home lifestyle guidance and emotional support to cancer patients.

 

 

 

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