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Three Requirements for Beating Cancer

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and cancer survivor Richard A. Bloch.

Occasionally, a shallow-thinking health professional says that medical treatments are the only things that cure cancer. He does not want his patient confused with the idea that anything but his doctor can help treat him. Mental attitude has nothing to do with it. Furthermore, if the patient tries mental imagery and it doesn’t help them, they will have a guilt complex and that attitude will hinder their recovery.

If that isn’t talking out of both sides of their mouth, I don’t know what is! If the patient’s mental attitude could hinder their recovery, how could it have nothing to do with their recovery? When someone can explain spontaneous remission to me, I’ll quit believing in lots of things.

The head of a major cancer center, an outstanding oncologist, told me he strongly believes in, as he put it, the will to live. He had a very good personal friend admitted with advanced cancer. He believed she had only a week or so to live. She was in critical condition. She had a daughter’s wedding scheduled for some months hence and her husband had promised her a trip to Europe after the wedding. He urged her to move the daughter’s wedding to the next few days because of her condition.

She insisted she would make the wedding and the trip to Europe. Sure enough, she went into remission, was there to watch her daughter get married and even went on a wonderful trip to Europe feeling good. On the return trip her cancer recurred. She returned directly to the hospital where she died a few days later.

Going even further, and this is a giant step further, Dr. Herbert Benson, the cardiologist who heads behavioral medicine at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, one of the main teaching facilities at Harvard Medical School says, “Belief is the hidden ingredient in Western medicine and every traditional system of ‘healing’ I know about...A new drug given by a doctor who believes in it enthusiastically is far more potent than the same drug given by a skeptical doctor...Clinical studies have shown that a patient’s belief in a medicine can make it far more effective.”

I believe there are three fundamental requirements for an individual to have a chance to beat cancer. First is an honest, strong desire to live. Second is total confidence in their doctor. Third is absolute confidence that the treatment their doctor is recommending will successfully treat them. If any of these three factors is missing, I urge the patient to make a few telephone calls to see if a qualified physician can be found who can make them possible.

I have a stronger reason to believe this than anyone else. After being told I was terminal, I went to a doctor who said he would cure me. He did not say he would try this or hope for that. He said he would cure me, and he told me step-by-step exactly what would happen to me over the next year. Everything happened as he said it would, and at the end of two years, I was cured.

A year later, I heard an outstanding oncologist say there was no chemotherapy effective against my type of cancer. I felt like standing up and saying, “Here I am.” Again, in 1984, some six years after these drugs helped cure me; I heard the head of a cancer center say the same thing. Then and only then, I realized what it probably was. Drugs alone are in truth probably ineffective against this type of cancer. But these same drugs given by an enthusiastic physician to a patient who believes they will work and who practices mental imagery along with the drugs did their intended job.

In other words, for some patients with cancer, there are no medical options. Relaxation and imagery could help in these cases. It positively cannot hurt. In most cases there are multiple medical options. Here, relaxation and imagery could help doubly by stirring up the body’s own immune system to help kill the cancer, along with magnifying the effects of the treatments to destroy the cancer.

An additional benefit of relaxation and imagery is that it allows a patient to be intimately involved in their own recovery. It gives them a feeling of being at least partially in charge of their own destiny, which can do nothing but improve the quality of life. As the child of a patient so aptly put it in a letter, it made her father fight to live rather than wait to die.