Liz was my friend. She died too young. She died as she lived – prepared, organized, no unfinished business, except the business of living which she would have liked to continue with but could not.
The year before she died she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that had spread. She made the choice to fight it and win. She took every treatment and healing strategy available and reasonable. She was a reasonable person.
Liz was a creative person and took a creative approach to life. She lived her life in a conscious way and she did the same through her illness and death. She was a curious, thoughtful, examiner of life. She believe in personal growth and was a person of faith. She tried to learn from every experience, and leave things better than she found them.
She always made an effort to put positive energy into the world. She loved relating to people and had many friends and loved ones.
Sometimes an illness is a portal for unification, a miracle, for love, a path to raise up a person or a family which are already beautiful, good and true. Sometimes illness is a wake-up call to redirect one’s life, to let something go, to change. Sometimes illness is a way to find out who loves you. Sometimes illness is the path of life itself.
And sometimes illness is a path to die. It is the way out and the body will not survive. Along the way though healing can take place.
Liz’s illness was like that. It was her path to die. As much as she wanted to get better, the cancer was always at least one step ahead of her, never remitting, never giving her a break, but racing on to it’s final conclusion, continuously taking more and more of her life as it went.
Liz spent the final year of her life at home, cherishing each day, hoping for the best outcome, caring for her loved ones, letting go. There came a point where she realized she was going to die.
She liked order and organization and process in life and she had a death that gave her that. She closed off each part of her life skillfully and impeccably. She let it grow smaller, while staying fully present to the experience and felt every emotion. She planned her funeral, picked her music, said good-bye to each and every person she loved in a special and unique way to each. She bequeathed her possessions thoughtfully and carefully. She celebrated and quietly went to sleep and died in her bed at home.
Liz died the same way she lived. In the weeks before she died Liz said,
“This is a good time to die. I have left nothing unfinished. My life is complete.”
David is a 45 year old man who lives with a mood and anxiety disorder that is treatable with medication, but has no cure. He is able to function fairly well on a daily basis and have a full personal, work and family life. He goes through cycles where the illness demands more of his time and energy and he has to adjust his life and activities accordingly.
He has learned to cope with what each day brings. He has learned to be flexible, listen to his body and state of mind and act accordingly. He has learned to change things on a dime, to live in the moment, and to breathe. He is a lover of life and has a tremendous capacity to embrace life and whatever it brings everyday.
He is not comfortable with the word healing, but is more comfortable with the word recovery. For him, healing implies closure or resolution. There is some inference that if you are going to heal at some point you will be done. Healing is something you undertake with a particular outcome in mind.
He likes the idea of recovery because to him it contains a sense of movement, or is a process toward greater health and well being that is ongoing. Recovery for him is not spiritual but physical – with physical results of greater freedom and capacity to function.
Recovery exists in the present – a kind of biofeedback in relation to what has come before and what you want to do in the future. But it is always expressed in the present. The present communicates to you about how you feel right now in relation to the past- you feel better now than you did last week. In the now, you feel satisfied that you can function and what you want to do (future) and what you can do are closer together.
He sees recovery as “that in-between place where there is movement demonstrated in your life right here and now as a physical being.” That place between what I did and what I want to do. It measures itself in the moment.
He sees illness as a deepening into life, a life path. He says:
“The problem doesn’t have to go away. We just learn how to better cope with it and grow ourselves in a way that leads to a deeper connection with ourselves and life in general. Now, if the problem is resolved and goes away, well, then I would say that this would be a full and complete recovery.”
On Nov. 11, 2000, at age 50, Jann was diagnosed with a mass in the right brain. He had been losing weight, feeling tired, and having headaches. He had brain surgery to remove the mass. The surgery left a slight depression on the right side of his head but otherwise he recovered nicely form the surgery. It was followed by debilitating radiation treatments that caused burning pain in his mouth and jaw, made it impossible to taste, difficult to swallow and eat. He lost a lot of weight and had little energy. Recovery was long and slow and painful.
He viewed this life-threatening illness as an opportunity to explore his life, his relationship to God and the Universe, and to re-evaluate his core relationships. He went to work on his life, faced his mortality, and gained new perspective on what was truly important to him. He became a better husband and a better father, less critical and less removed.
About half way through his radiation treatments he became despairing that he could not go on and finish these devastating treatments. He felt trapped by the expectations of his medical team and his family to fight the fight and finish the treatment. But it was so painful and debilitating.
The turning point came when someone said to him that he did not have to finish the radiation if he did not want to. He could say no. It was then that he recognized that it was his choice to continue and was able to own that choice. It made coping with the side effects more manageable.
He came to realize during this ordeal that healing was a comprehensive personal process. He built for himself a multi-layered healing program that involved many layers and modalities. He learned that healing was not necessarily based on one modality or only took place through the medical system. He adopted an investigative approach to his recovery process. He felt that by creating his own program that included numerous facets, he was able to take ownership of his healing process and it became more powerful.
He felt a connection to his spirituality that was deeper than ever before in his life. He examined his beliefs and read about many religious, metaphysical, and mystical ideas and writings. He felt a sense of aliveness and immediacy to living that was unparalled.
Over the following years, Jann became involved the day-to-day mundane of life as his health returned. He went back to work, got on with earning a living for his family. He lost touch with that sense of aliveness and immediacy, though always felt grateful for life. He forgot some of the things he had learned and his passion for his spirituality became somewhat lost in his mundane life.
In November 2009, after experiencing symptoms of headaches, dizziness, and slurred speech, Jann was once again diagnosed with a brain tumor, in precisely the same place as the first one nine years earlier.
He immediately responded to this diagnosis as a wake-up call to reconnect with his spirituality.
He family, as they did the first time, stepped up to support him in his healing, each in their own unique way creating a synergy of support.
His treatment this time was to be 4 weeks of radiation, followed by one gamma knife treatment.
He felt that he was in a different place in his evolution this time than before. He had continued to read and explore cutting edge ideas about consciousness and quantum physics and he had come to believe that the mind could control what happened in the body, that the mind and body could be allies, that the mind could direct the body. And he set to work putting his beliefs and ideas into action, into practice.
It was interesting to him that the tumor this time was mostly fluid, not solid. He felt that it was a reminder to him to truly embrace a living spirituality every day that he had forgotten about over the years.
He decided that the outcome of this recurrence was less important than the messages from his Soul. He realized that a 2nd cancer, made longevity an uncertain proposal. He was at peace with that uncertainty and believed that he could still heal, even if he did die.
He once again created a healing map, chose for himself a number of healing modalities that he felt appropriate. He set to work to create a new platform for his life of being deeply connected to his true self, his Soul, and his spirituality.
Using hypnosis, he worked with his subconscious, his beliefs, and his life story. But most vital for him was to realize that he had a passion for his spirituality that he would never let go of as long as he lived. That for him was his key and his core.
He decided that this time he would create a completely different relationship to the radiation treatment that once before had brought him to his knees. He decided to remain calm, focused, and empowered as his baseline attitude.
He set out creating the belief that having understood the reason for his recurrence, that it was already gone. It had done it’s job by bringing his spirituality back into focus. That the radiation was the physical means, the tool, to remove the physical manifestation.
Throughout the treatment, he maintained his weight, he ate, and continued to function well, and recovered from the treatment much more quickly. He regularly envisioned the tumor shrinking and disappearing.
At this time the tumor is gone and the treatment has been deemed successful. Jann does not see this as a success though. He sees healing as a spiritual process that we all have to do in our lives, synonymous to growth. He believes that you have to work at it. It is something you orient yourself to as a continuous day-to-day way of life.
Jann sees healing as a relationship in which he is not isolated or alone.
We are all aiding one another – there is healing going on everywhere, all the time, in a quantum physics kind of way. We are all part of the field; we all can help one another heal.
His thoughts about health, healing and longevity when recently asked are this:
“I wake up everyday, I feel grateful – hey, I am alive and where I find myself today is where I find myself.”
People say they are responsible for their illness. We are not responsible for our illness, we are responsible to our illness. We are not responsible for our incarnation, we are responsible to our incarnation. — Stephen Levine
The fall Max turned 11, a normally healthy, happy kid, he stopped growing. He began getting headaches, nausea when eating certain foods. He went to his Mom in October and said, Something is wrong with me, I need to go to the doctor. His Mom, a nurse, had already scheduled his yearly checkup with his pediatrician for later that month.
Tests were scheduled to find out the meaning of Max’s odd and various symptoms.
Fall had turned into winter and Christmas was nearing. The tree was up, presents bought, family plans made, holiday cooking underway.
That week, the morning of Dec.23, in a continued effort to pinpoint the cause of Max’s symptoms, a CT scan was performed of Max’s abdomen that revealed an 8cm mass on Max’s right kidney.
Within an hour, gathered in a room at the children’s hospital were Max, his mom, his dad, the doctor and head nurse. The tumor was diagnosed as Wilm’s tumor, a type of childhood cancer with about a 90% cure rate. He would need surgery and 6 months of chemotherapy.
Further tests the following day (Christmas eve), showed no spread of the cancer. Surgery was scheduled for three days later to remove the kidney. With both parents in the medical field they knew what Max was in for with surgery and chemo.
It is not clear all of what Max took in from everything that was discussed in that room that afternoon.
He knew he would not be playing hockey, which was disappointing to him, but his main concern was that he did not want to be in any pain. So the nurse spent lots of time with him showing him what would be done to alleviate any pain, especially from needles (which Max hated).
But from that moment on Max was courageous and willing. He was in the moment, had faith in the best possible outcome, and trusted his parents and siblings and extended family. He let himself be loved.
A new reality had been set in motion. There were calls to make. And Christmas to be celebrated. His older brother and sister needed to be told. His sister Robin immediately stepped up and became Max’s main support. Sam, age 16 was also told late that night when he returned home from his activities and he rearranged his hockey schedule that night and was also part of the team.
Each member of the family was struck by how everything had so abruptly changed. They woke up in one reality and went to bed in a completely different reality that they would now have to learn about and live in.
They were a sports-oriented family with all the children playing hockey and other team sports. They knew how to be a team. Before the day was out the whole family instinctively teamed up and moved forward as a unit.
The parents kept an open forum for questions and discussions that flowed through the days that followed. They continued their tradition of going to church on Christmas eve and coming home to a family meal and opening a few choice presents. Everything took on a greater intensity and poignancy.
When Max’s mom asked who wanted to open their present first, Max instantly put up his hand and said, Kid with the tumor goes first! He was told immediately by everyone – that he would not be milking that one for long. Max put up his hand once again and said, Kid with one kidney goes first! Max was known for his sense of humor and joking around.
There were many laughs and much joy as the family held a space of love, teamwork and support. Every Christmas, all of Max’s aunts, uncles and cousins came over for Christmas day. Everyone arrived by noon and stayed till evening, celebrating, visiting, eating, opening presents, singing and playing music, and general overall loving chaos. They were a happy, caring extended family.
Anytime one looked around that day, Max was on someone’s lap being held, or hugged, or massaged, or kissed and altogether and completely loved. He felt safe. His siblings felt safe.
Over the next three days there emerged in a most organic and authentic way a resonance of love, peace and joy. That frequency was held and maintained with a depth of integrity by everyone involved. Prayers were being sent out for Max from many places in the world from Switzerland to around the US and Canada.
The night before the surgery, Max’s dad and his sister created a website to inform and update friends and loved ones on Max’s status over the coming week. It was a singular place where everyone could go to check in. It relieved the family of phone calls, emails and endless explanations.
There was also a page on the site where people could leave messages and prayers for Max to read. Robin took on the job of webmaster and updated everyone throughout the week. Over the following days, Max and the family read every one of the many hundreds of messages and prayers for the boy.
Max had a bubble bath that night, after which he did a run – naked and joyful through the house. He then crawled into his parents waterbed with his sister, mom and dad and fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning Max had his surgery. His right kidney was successfully removed and a port was installed in to prepare for the coming chemo. The surgery was about 3 hours long.
While Max was in recovery, not awake yet, something amazing happened. The tumor was analyzed under the microscope and was diagnosed as a rare, benign tumor and should be cured by the surgery alone. No Wilms, no cancer! No chemo! Surgery was the cure. It felt like a miracle. A Christmas miracle.
Before the website was shut down for good, when Max was going home, this was his final and only message:
Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:42 AM, CST Hi this is Max I am doing well. I am getting ready to get some more tubes out and maybe eat. I want to say thank for praying and keeping me in your thoughts. I will see you soon!!!!!!!!
Over a period of four days this small, eleven year old boy attracted to him 1690 visits to the website and constant prayers, love and well wishes coming to him.
His parents, believe the tumor was malignant, but through the prayers and blessings of all the people the best possible outcome came about. It was felt by all that something extraordinary most definitely happened during those days.
Max made a full recovery. When asked about healing, he said,
“It is feeling better, leaving what felt bad behind.”
There is more to this story that is yet to be written, it’s impact may be far reaching in their lives. They all rose to the occasion and surpassed themselves beyond what they knew they could be. Where each will take that in the future and how each will use their unique strengths, capacity for love, trust, deep caring and compassion is still a mystery to unfold.
These stories explore the energies of well-being, hope, health and healing, and what that means in our daily life. We have all had experiences of healing whether it is a cut finger that goes away or the common cold or a serious illness or an addiction we have overcome.
In many ways healing the body seems like a mystery and healing, beyond our control. Feed a cold, starve a fever. Wash your hands. To bandage a cut or not to bandage. Yet we know we have a capacity and a drive to be healthy.
We can try to treat, cure and support our bodies during illness, but can we direct and focus healing? Is healing the same as recovery? Is health something static or is there a continuum of health? What are the connections between life and health, healing and wellness? As we explore these ideas it is always good to find the questions and start there.
In any exploration it is important to listen to the stories around you. Through these representive stories perhaps we can begin to distill some keys about healing, health and well being. (In essence these are true stories, but in some cases the names and various details have been changed or cloaked to give a bit of anonymity.)
“Though the function and structure of the subconscious is the same for everyone, the content and history is unique to each individual and therefore each person responds differently to suggestions.”
IN MY 30 YEARS as a practicing hypnotherapist, I have often felt successful in helping my clients reach their goals whether it is to quit smoking, change eating patterns or overcome phobias.When clients come for hypnosis therapy, I take time to get to know them, their history and the issue or goal they want to accomplish.
I have a limited amount of time to spend with an individual and I must figure out what messages his or her subconscious will respond to. Often I am speaking to the subconscious and giving it a new set of instructions that will help the client reach the goal. But I don’t always know how a client will respond to suggestions.
In a follow-up session, I check in with my client and see what has been working and what is still in need of reinforcement. Because the subconscious loves repetition, it is often helpful to reinforce the messages to help clients move forward and integrate the changes they are working on. But every so often surprises occur from the hypnotic reprogramming.
Sometimes, unplanned by me, the hypnosis is doubly effective.An example of this type of unexpected change is the woman who came in to quit smoking and also stopped a lifelong habit of biting her nails.
With “Alice,” the only programming I entered into her subconscious was for smoking cessation – not one mention of the nails. Her subconscious took the opportunity to use the message to end this habit as well. All it takes is one line in the program that resonates with the subconscious. In this case, it was that she no longer needed this smoking addiction in her life to help her cope; in fact she no longer needed any addiction in her life.
Needless to say, my client was happy to have stopped both habits successfully and fairly effortlessly.