Just the other day I flashed on a woman I knew back in the 80’s in one of my twelve step programs who had been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of cancer. She had been to see a healing ‘guru,’ who looked at her and said, ‘what have you done to create this is in your body?’ Floored by the guru’s utter lack of compassion, I also knew what I was thinking and intuiting was diametrically opposed with what was well on its way and has now become a common, knee-jerk response to illness; that we create it. My heart broke in on itself for this poor woman sitting in the shit brown folding chair, sobbing great gulping sobs, and trying desperately hard to figure out what she’d done wrong; my heart broke in on itself for all the other men and women who were going to experience the very same thing.
My beloved mother died of cancer, two of my closest friends are currently battling cancer, and I have been working with cancer patients for close to seventeen years. What I have witnessed is cancer doesn’t give a rat’s ass if you’re good, bad, virtuous, positive, repressed, enraged, or spiritual; it doesn’t care how much you forgive or how deeply you love or how earnestly you bargain. I have never seen a cancer patient who didn’t fight to live right up to the very end so don’t tell me if so and so had more of a fighting spirit she/he would have survived. That is an ignorant and naïve remark, as ignorant and naïve as the statement, he/she created her cancer. One out of two people are going to be diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and it is not because they’re sitting around thinking negative thoughts, festering with resentment, or repressing their deepest feelings. It‘s because the level of chemical toxicity in the environment and the chemicals in food and virtually everything with which you come into contact are damaging cellular DNA. It is the injury to the DNA that allows mutations in the cells to occur and mutations become tumors; some benign and some malignant.
What I find most profoundly disturbing about the ever growing popularity of the one-size- fits-all-new-age-you-control-your-life belief systems, is it is beginning to have a DDT effect on the way people perceive the sick. When it comes to cancer, I am hearing more and more of ‘well they’re not spiritual enough,’ or ‘they’re not positive enough,’ or ‘they’re not forgiving enough,’ or ‘they’re too angry,’ or worst of all ‘it’s a lesson they need to learn.’ (nice God you got there) I have seen patient after patient internalize this kind of crap; I have seen patient after patient begin to believe cancer treatment isn’t working, or their cancer has returned, because of something they’re doing wrong. What is being skipped over entirely is the fact that traditional cancer treatment does not cure cancer, stop metastasis, or prevent re-occurrence. All traditional cancer treatment does is completely destroy the body’s natural immune system, permanently damage the internal organs, and retard the growth of the cancer cell. That there is no correlation whatsoever between cancer cure and shrinking the cancer cell has been completely left out of the conversation. Rather than blaming the patient for re-occurrence because he/she wasn‘t spiritual or positive enough, the question that needs to be asked is, why are people encouraged, expected, and brainwashed even, into paying several hundred thousand dollars for a treatment that may or may not work for a fairly limited amount of time and is so toxic, painful, and destructive to the body that re-occurrence is almost guaranteed within a matter of years or immediately.
In my opinion the most adamant adherents to New Age thinking are the most terror based. They are terrified of powerlessness, of the random, of a lack of control, and they have finally found a system of thought and a way of being that allows them to feel safe. I have seen the same traits in the followers of any strictly orthodox religion. When my mother was dying, clearly dying, bald and partially blind in the hospital, one of her born again friends, who I happen to love very much, showed up and after she’d visited with mom for awhile came to find me in the waiting room. I stood, reached my arms out to her, and she fell into me crying, ‘oh Kathy I really thought Jesus was going to save her.’ She stepped away from me, her face all crumpled, and rather than asking the next logical question, namely why didn’t Jesus save her, her face hardened and she said, ‘the ways of God are mysterious.’ What I don’t understand is when something is so in your face, so challenging to your faith and what you believe, how can you not ask questions. I question my faith all the time, I grapple with, I hold it up to the light. This is what makes it a working faith, it lives, it breathes, it is not some etched in stone dogma that requires I sacrifice common sense, study, intuition, instinct, heart, and life experience.
The purpose of life is to evolve and we evolve through transformation. Yes there are lessons in life but this whole ‘what is the lesson is here?’ is getting out control. When the question is used in any OTHER way but to FREE you, than it is being used incorrectly and punitively. To the adamant New Age-er negative thoughts create a negative reality so they spend a great deal of time rising above their ugly, splitting off, and denying it, not realizing that the so-called ugly and negative feelings are NOT forming their reality, and are little more than symptoms of what is actually forming their reality. When I finally owned I was blaming (the ugly feeling) people for taking advantage of me, the logical question was why do I allow this to keep happening which is when I discovered the behavior was rooted in an utter lack of self- esteem. The work on my end was to begin the arduous process of repairing my self-esteem. Believe me when I tell you it’s much easier to think this is a negative feeling and I’ll just to rise above and say I forgive; the reason I know that’s easier is because that’s what my first teachers taught me to do and I did it, till it stopped working. That’s when I moved from fixing into transforming.
Real change is transformative; real change is gradual (think snake and you‘re watching your skin shed), rarely comfortable, and forces you out of your comfort zone. Change is a CONSTANT of life; you can see it all around you. Fall become winter, winter becomes spring, spring becomes summer, summer becomes fall, each transforms into the other. Science can explain HOW this happens but they cannot tell you WHY, anymore than science can explain WHY the sperm insists upon swimming towards that egg, the sun continues to rise and set, and the moon waxes and wanes. The WHY is the mystery, the WHY is the unknowable, but at the same time you can see it all around you. The great flaw in New Age thinking is that it ignores the WHY; the metaphor that comes to mind is an exquisitely, beautiful butterfly pinned dead on velvet.
I am of the Wyrd, the concept of creating your own reality, of the impact of thought on your life, has genuine validity but it is a partial truth. I love my affirmations, I love chanting, and I hold true that I can actively impact my life and co- create my world for my deepest and highest good, but life has also taught me there are times when I simply have to play the random and unexpected cards I’ve been dealt. I am a healer and yes I have seen people who refuse to get well, who have a tremendous amount invested in staying sick, who have in fact created their illness, but in my practice these people are the exception not the rule. I consciously choose to work with cancer patients because I am not afraid of the disease or the process that accompanies it. I consciously choose to work with cancer patients because life, change, transforming, and evolving doesn’t stop because they have cancer, if anything it intensifies. Cancer patients are some of the bravest people I know; they quite literally deal with their mortality on a daily basis and it is a solitary, devastatingly lonely, and agonizing process. I am a fighter by nature, love life beyond all reason, and I will not hesitate to intervene, sometime gracefully and sometimes not, when I feel a patient is being punished or her process, a process so huge it boggles all reason, is reduced by malignantly simplistic minds looking for easy, comfortable reasons. Any healing is interactive. I know the transformative work my patients and I do together extends their lives and equally important, improves the quality of their lives before, during, and after treatment. I also know the work I do is integral to, but not, the cure and that once traditional treatment (chemo/radiation) begins I am no longer treating the cancer but the horrific side effects of treatment.
Rachel Carson, the mother of the modern environmental movement in this country, was the first to draw a correlation between chemicals and cancer in her book ‘The Silent Spring,’ The book was published in 1962. Fast forward some forty-four years and the 9/11 first responders, men and women who were breathing air thick with toxic chemicals for days, even months, on end, are suffering from types of cancer medicine has never seen before. All the dogs they had down on site sniffing for the dead were tumor-ridden and dead within six months. Yet traditional medicine still refuses to recognize the clear correlation between environment and cancer, it’s a money thing, and continues to treat a chemically induced disease with the harshest of chemicals, chemo is a derivative of mustard gas, radiation poisoning is a side of effect of radiation and a nuclear blast, also a money thing. All cancer research is based on the hypothesis that the only way to cure cancer is to kill or retard the growth of the primary tumor through toxic and aggressive means; the theory flies in the face of thirty-five-plus years of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Statistically people with the best rates of cancer survival use alternative therapies in conjunction with tradition treatment yet virtually no monies are spent on researching alternative cancer treatment and prevention. This is something I hope with all my heart and soul to change in my lifetime. As I write this Wise Women across the country are actively involved with herbal prevention and seeking herbal cures; cures that work with the immune system of the body rather than against it.
God did not make cancer; God does not give you cancer; and when people die from cancer it’s not God who did it, it’s the cancer. And you know what…it sucks, it really fucking sucks. Yes my mother was a smoker, she had quit years before, and she still got lung cancer. My father smoked like a fiend, kools no less, he didn’t get lung cancer. I know of another woman who was a life-long vegetarian, never ate anything that wasn’t organic, didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs, was a yoga instructor, and was hit with bone cancer which metastasized so rapidly through-out her body she was dead in a matter of weeks. I know of still another woman who lived on fried foods, whiskey, and camels and she lived to the ripe old age of ninety. The stark reality is for all the reasons given for cancer there are an equal number of exceptions and when there is no clear answer people get insecure. When people get insecure they don’t feel safe, they feel powerless, and when they feel powerless they start reaching for something that will make them feel safe. ‘What do you think she did to create it,’ they ask. ‘The ways of God are mysterious,’ they say. Bullshit, I say. Just watch an oak and a linden through the seasons.
Live loud, love fierce, and suffer no fools, kat