Radical Remission. Radical Ideas. Ep6

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 SIX: Having Strong Reasons For Living.

“What is your life going to look like if you don’t die?” 

This is the question posed by Anita Moorjani to anyone with a “terminal” condition. And by the way, nudge from me here; life IS a terminal condition. I am seeing that the message over these 10 days is truly all about living your best life, regardless of a medical prognosis.

Here Rudy Tanzi states, “The key to super health and the key to miraculous recovery, is a reason to live. You can’t just say, ‘I want to live’, there has to be a why you want to live. If that why is strong enough, that then drives changes at the level of the brain (neuro-plasticity), the genes and then the biochemical reactions of your body that are being driven by the ‘spirit’…it’s the ability to use your brain to dive into why.”

“We construct such a clear plan for why we want to be alive that it takes the dominant role in our whole system.” explains Michael Finkelstein MD.

However, I was relieved to hear this from Mark Bricca MD, “It’s also ok to be lost for a while. That’s part of the journey.” He talks of the phenomena of getting stressed about getting stressed and thinking we need stay positive at all times. That’s a stress!

I know personally, and have witnessed in others, a desperate form of positive stressing. Thinking you have to be “UP” the whole time and not let the fear or doubts creep in EVER, because they might be the thing that takes you down. Positive thinking at all costs. 

I wrote a short poem about this phenomenon in Breastless, to describe how hard it was to not ever get the “All Clear!” from medics. I worried that if I let my doubts creep in, then that might encourage the cancer to proliferate, and it felt like the only other option was determined positivity :

Gotta think upside,
Believe it's all gone.
Be glad the treatment's over
And move on!

That represented me stressing and superimposing a form of denial. Not what is being spoken of here;

“People ask the question, ‘Where might I be out of alignment with my own deep personal integrity?’ then take steps to narrow that gap. Imagine the energy that frees up for our bodies if we are saying, yes, I’m fully here, I’m showing up! They are the people who I see over and over again do better than expected, beat the odds and have the amazing outcomes.”

Also, I feel it is important to highlight here, that there is a difference between “being lost for a while” (feeling and allowing the inevitable shifts in emotion) and an overarching, unshifting depression. A massive difference. And I believe that being discerning about that difference, maybe getting a counsellor to help you, is crucial. And Kelly Turner agrees: “We know from many, many studies that depressed cancer patients die significantly sooner. The research is hopeful that if we can take people and get them back in touch with their reason for living, we are going to extend their lives.”

The case studies are of two passionate women, Pilar Davila, originally from Mexico and Jane McLelland, a British national (which warmed my previously British heart!) They both overcame the odds after shockingly bad prognoses – for Jane two ‘Stage Fours’ over many years. They are both living passionately, with a strong purpose and their remissions are inspiring.

It is repeated in this episode that “cancer is increasingly being understood as more of a metabolic issue than a genetic one”. That is music to my ears, because labelling it as hard-wired and genetic once again robs us of responsibility and just leaves it to our fate. If we start to view it as metabolic then that puts us in a position of control where we can choose to change how we are living.

That’s exciting to me!