By Sanjiv Ranjan
Cancer of the breast is, like all other cancers, actually a cancer of the mind, says healer Sanjiv Ranjan. When the mind heals, the body heals.
A woman’s breasts are a symbol of her feminine self, her motherhood.
Even when faced with the possibility of death, she seeks to preserve this aspect of her womanhood. That is why so many women resist a radical mastectomy (complete removal of the breasts and surrounding tissue) unless absolutely mandatory, and frequently opt for breast conservation surgery, even though the risk of relapse is hypothetically higher.
By now, we all know that cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Every human body produces abnormal cells, but not everyone suffers from cancer, even though the incidence is steadily rising. This is because in most people the immune system is alert to the presence of such cells and there is something known as an internal surveillance system, which tracks and destroys abnormal cells.
When this internal surveillance breaks down, or becomes dysfunctional, such cells are allowed to persist and multiply, and this is how a tumour is born. The tumour then begins to draw blood vessels into it. As the blood supply to the tumour increases, it begins to grow. This crab-like formation, with the tumour forming the central body, and blood vessels radiating into it, is what inspired Hippocrates to name this disease cancer. But we are still not closer to answering the essential question – is cancer a disease, or is it a symptom of a deeper tragedy or pathology within?
Possibility of relapse
The defining characteristic of a symptom is that if treatment is aimed at the annihilation of the symptom alone, then it is bound to surface somewhere else. And this is precisely what happens in cancer. All of us who have seen a cancer patient, or have ourselves suffered from the disease, have lived with the possibility of a relapse. So much so, that even in remission, the sense of having had cancer never leaves one. Therefore, it would not be unscientific to conclude that cancer is the outward manifestation of a deeper malaise inside the mind, a pathology whose roots are buried deep inside our being. So what causes the breakdown of the body’s internal surveillance system in the highly intelligent environment that is the human body–mind?
Body as subconscious mind
We use the term body-mind because they are a part of the whole person, inextricably linked in day-to-day life. Just as we cannot separate a flower and its fragrance, and the moonlight from the moon, the body is an outward radiation of the human mind. Every person is a holistic continuum of his or her mind into their body.
In the words of the reputed neuroscientist, Dr Candace Pert, who discovered the opiate receptors in the brain, “your body is your subconscious mind”.
|Just as we cannot separate a fl ower and its fragrance, and the moonlight from the moon, the body is an outward radiation of the human mind. Every person is a holistic continuum of his or her mind into their body.|
This brings us to the central premise of mind-body medicine, which explores what is it that takes place in the mind that creates a particular condition? Having worked with breast cancer patients intensively, and drawing from the research of other pioneers in this field, one identifies certain traits that define the cancer-prone personality.
Who gets cancer?
According to Dr W Douglas Brodie, MD, who has dealt with thousands of cancer patients over the past 28 years, there are certain personality traits present in the cancer-susceptible individual.These traits are as follows:
1. Being highly conscientious, caring, dutiful, responsible, hardworking, and usually of above average intelligence.
2. Exhibits a strong tendency toward carrying other people’s burdens and toward taking on extra obligations, and is often ‘worrying for others.’
3. Having a deep-seated need to make others happy. Being a ‘people pleaser’ with a great need for approval.
4. Often lacking closeness with one or both parents, which sometimes, later in life, results in lack of closeness with spouse or others who would normally be close.
5. Harbours long-suppressed emotions, such as anger, resentment and/or hostility. The cancer-susceptible individual typically internalises such emotions and has great difficulty expressing them.
6. Reacts adversely to stress, and often becomes unable to cope adequately with such stress. Usually experiences an especially damaging event about two years before the onset of detectable cancer. The patient is not able to cope with this traumatic event or series of events, which comes as a ‘last straw’ on top of years of suppressed reactions to stress.
7. Is unable to resolve deep-seated emotional problems and conflicts, usually beginning in childhood, and is often unaware of their presence.
Role of conditioning
Stress causes suppression of the immune system, and does so more overwhelmingly in the cancer-susceptible individual than in others. Thus personal tragedies and excessive levels of stress appear to combine with the underlying personality traits described above to bring on immune deficiency which allows cancer to thrive.
Women who have breast cancer often experience a deep rejection of their sacred feminine self. In addition to this they have never really known how to give vent to the overwhelming emotions that have surged within their body-mind, as a reaction to stress.
The human nervous system is the product of millions of years of evolution. It is programmed on the basis of the flight-fight response.
Anger gives you the energy to stand up and fight. Fear equips you to run. But unfortunately many times we do not act. We simply freeze. The massive biochemical outpouring of neuro-transmitters remains unused. We get stuck in our own internal cesspool.
The immune system begins to break down. The internal surveillance system gets confused. One cannot treat the body without treating the mind.
Beliefs can beat cancer
We have to open our hearts and minds to the fact that it is people whom we are treating, and not the tumour. The tumour is only a guiding light to a deeper tragedy that has taken place within. One that has given rise to an unconscious death wish. One part of the personality has died. It needs to be restored. Awareness needs to be created.
Most of us assume that healing is something done to us, that if we have a medical problem our responsibility is simply to get to a physician who will treat us. This is true to a degree, but it is not the whole truth. There is a power that lies within. We have the ability to influence the course of the disease. We were born with it. We only need to be retold, educated afresh.
Every person participates in their recovery through their emotions, attitudes and beliefs. It has a direct impact on how long they survive, or how well they recover.
First step toward recovery
One of the first things that needs to change is the belief system. Beliefs have a very powerful effect on the human genome. According to the research of Dr Bruce Lipton, an internationally renowned molecular biologist, pioneer of the New Science of Belief Movement, our perception influences the read-out of our genes. Our thoughts can switch on or switch off our cancer genes.
During the course of a life-threatening illness, a profound shift in perception can send the disease into remission.
A recent research of more than a 100 fourth-stage cancer patients who went into remission revealed, that all of them, 100 per cent of them, went into deeper exploration of their inner world, either on their own or with the help of professionals trained to facilitate the journey.
They decided not to buy into the popular notion that cancer is the end of the road that is life. They became open to the lesser known truth that cancer may or may not be fatal. It all depends on a choice that is made. To view it as a wake-up call. To put back into life, what is missed. To live from an expanded vision of the self, to live with honour and dignity.
Deal with emotions
The next milestone in the healing journey is learning how to deal with emotions. Learn not to judge, hold emotions, nor allow anyone to judge you. Let go of paradigms like “men do not cry” and “women do not say no, or get angry”.
You are biologically programmed to experience powerful emotions. Emotions are energy in motion, they are your defense mechanism. They equip you to deal with this grand and often unpredictable adventure that is life. They are your roadmap to what is good for you. They help you to cope with discomfort and subsequently heal.
The moment we begin to accept and own up to our wounded selves we begin to heal. Inside us, reside our fragmented selves who need our love, care and attention. Our entire life is stored in our body.
There is hope. Healing is simple and easy, because the inherent nature of life is to heal. We just need to remove the obstacles and blocks from the path of recovery Remember, every breath, every heart beat, is life waiting to renew itself.
Disclaimer: Mind-body medicine is the fourth weapon in the fight against cancer, alongside surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
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