Radical Remission. Radical Ideas. Ep4

During this week, October 3-7 2022, there is a repeat free airing of the Radical Remission Docuseries https://www.discover.hayhouse.com/radicalremission/, created by researcher and author, Kelly Turner, PhD. 

I commented daily on each episode as it was launched back in March 2020 in order to elaborate on my personal experience and hard-won convictions regarding cancer and cancer treatment and they are all still available here on my blog, Reflections. All of the episodes will be available for the duration so perhaps my commentary will give you a sense of which you want to dip into. I am sure that after this timeframe the documentary will be available through Hay House in other forms. 

One of the reasons for writing my play, Breastless, was to share the perspective that healing from cancer takes many forms. Even the writing of it played an important role in my healing of breast cancer.

I use story to reflect on these matters and to encourage others to ask themselves what they would do, what they believe and how they might help others. Kelly Turner uses her 15yrs of research into hundreds of cases of remission from life-threatening disease. 

This documentary leads us through the 10 elements that people who put themselves into remission had in common. It includes interviews with some ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Out of the ordinary, because their stories do not fit into our modern-day assumption that the scientific Western medical model has all the answers. These people all heal themselves as they embrace a wide range of approaches, including mainstream and “alternative” methods. 

For many years there has been a move amongst practitioners to avoid having their work described as “alternative” and instead use the word “complementary”, but I would even like to call into question that term too. To complement means to use Western medicine as the mainstay of treatment and to add into it other modalities to enhance it. What would happen if instead we started to view Western medicine, with all its brilliance and applications, as a complement to our own internal healing abilities; as just one of a broad spectrum of choices with which we can boost our own healing potential?

I would like to help shift our bias away from solely relying on Western Medicine, and instead see each person getting encouragement to first look within themselves for clues to solutions. Then, from that empowered place, seeking professionals whose perspective and approach feel in alignment with the person’s desires and needs. This would constitute taking responsibility for our own health and healing, as opposed to relying solely on an expert to tell us what we need based on the parameters of their specific training.

I am not wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but equally I would like an end to obscuring the issue with words like “complementary” to appease the medical gods of the past 200 years. It is time for a revolution; turning things around. It is time for some evolution in our thinking and actions. And it is time for the resolution of us individuals who experience health differently to speak up and be counted.

I am grateful to Dr Turner for doing her part.

EPISODE FOUR: Increasing Positive Emotions

Wow! This episode was unexpectedly challenging for me, which has given rich insight for further healing. It never truly ends, does it?!

We meet Saranne Rothberg and Valencia Robinson, both women who receive an advanced breast cancer diagnosis – Strike one.

Theirs is the particularly aggressive Triple Negative diagnosis which has the label of very low life expectancy. But these women are still here many years later – and then some! These two women exude positivity and describe their own quite different approaches for how to deal with the crippling fear when receiving such a devastating diagnosis.

Saranne, whose story is truly remarkable, describes her approach; “Use joy to undermine what’s crippling”

And that is Strike Two for me. 

That hits right up against my core wounding around the difference between authenticity and pretence. The idea of “using joy” brings up a fear response in me that is clearly linked to something deeply rooted about being encouraged to act in a certain way which belied what I was truly feeling beneath the surface. Something now brought to light for me to investigate and heal.

Then add to this discomfort the stories of their diagnosis and treatment which are told so honestly that I am reminded of many elements of my own struggles and my distress is elevated yet more – Strike Three.

But I manage to stay in. 

Even at the point when Valencia beautifully shares her experience of how hard it was for her to lose her breasts and we see multiple shots of her flat chest, both dressed and not. She really does share that so openly and I am grateful for being allowed to witness her experience, which matches my own. I am sure it will help many others also.

I understand intellectually the encouragement to find what’s positive in your life and focus on that, to hold onto hope and belief rather than getting lost in hopelessness. I agree that “happiness is contagious” and that your belief that you will survive is a power above and beyond much else. And yet, I feel scared by it. 

Aaron Teich, Healer and Meditation Teacher, calms me with his words, “When we are talking about working with cancer patients and emotions, the first step is dealing with the reaction to the diagnosis itself. There is a tremendous amount of fear that comes up.  So the first step is acknowledging that fear…and finding a way to work with that.”  That feels authentic and necessary.

Saranne’s Chemo Comedy Parties during each of her treatments sound like hell to me! I am such an Eeyore to her Tigger! I needed peace and calm during those hours. I needed to allow myself the fear and the sorrow. That’s just how I roll. AND I do kinda envy how much joy she clearly brought to others, and still does bring with her Comedy Cures Foundation; bringing comedy into the trenches of treatment. As she says, “It’s my journey and I’m going to make it as fun as possible”. All power to her! 

And powerful she is; when her cancer was found to have metastasized, she was told she had a 1% chance of survival; that 99% of people died. Her response was, “Well someone has to be that 1%!” Brilliant.

Natalie Roy; “Positive emotions become the medicine that we can use to activate the natural healing capacity of our body”. And Anita Moorjani offers 2 simple questions to ask ourselves which helps me to unclench my stomach and breathe more deeply as I watch:

“What elevates my energy? What uplifts me?” 

For Valencia is was her children, prayer, trust in her doctor, affirmations and yoga. She took each day at a time and followed what made sense to her and what she felt guided to do. She says, “You can’t be fruitful and thrive in a negative environment.” And she exudes faith and self-compassion at every turn. 

These are definitely inspiring stories. 

Jeffrey Rediger MD: “To hear these stories is life-changing for me personally and professionally and I have seen what these stories do for others. People listen to a story and they think, if that person can do that, then I can do this”.

He talks of the power of hope and that doctors would do well to bring a balanced picture when they give their diagnoses.

“I think as doctors we are taught not to give false hope. That’s an important concern, people are suffering and so any step that you take is important in terms of understanding how to be genuinely helpful to a person. But it’s also true that life and vitality rest on hope.”

“We need grounded, ethical hope. Hope that’s rooted in medical evidence and I think then you can balance the sides of the dialectic and provide something that’s genuinely helpful. Genuine, grounded hope is a huge aspect of what’s needed for people at times.”

I wish you hope.