19 September 2016

A major milestone - what is there to learn?

Let us travel back in time together. 1981. September the 16th. Thirty people have gathered in a large suburban house in Riversdale Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. The mood is subdued, yet infused with a palpable trace of hope. Enough hope for there to be a sense of excitement in the air; as if something extra-ordinary – as in out of the ordinary – is about to commence.

For this is the first meeting of the Melbourne Cancer Support Group. A world’s first where the aim is not just to help those in attendance to cope better with all the challenges cancer is throwing at them, and not just to feel better – although either would be worthwhile in itself.

No, the sense of hope that is in the air is based on a premise that is radical for the early eighties. The premise is that by attending, people will learn how to improve their chances of survival. We will be talking of finding a pathway to a cure when mainstream medicine says there is none.

Radical for then; still radical for now. Patients, the families and friends helping themselves. Not in opposition to the medical mainstream; but not abandoning hope when none is offered from that direction. Instead, looking inwards and realizing the potential for self healing. Looking to gain what we can from our own healing efforts.

On that first day, one woman deliberately chooses the one available couch. She sinks into it and props herself in a corner. This is her way of maintaining her stability. She has advanced brain cancer, a prognosis of 1 to 2 months and is the sickest person in the room; very unsteady on her feet.

This is my first ever group too, and she is so sick, she scares me a little. Most of the others look well despite the fact pretty well all of them are here as a point of last resort – this is something new after all. But this lady actually looks as if she could die during the group session. She scares me a little.

But imagine this… That lady is still alive 35 years later. She, along with another woman in the group with a slightly less difficult version of brain cancer, are 2 of the first I meet to have remarkable recoveries and convince me this new work is worth persevering with.

35 years of lifestyle-based cancer self help groups
So this week, we go way Out on a Limb once more as we recall those two and more from that first ever group that has just passed its 35th anniversary.

Nostalgic for me; not a single photographic record from those early days, but so many good memories, so many amazing people and not the occasional tough challenge, but first

                Thought for the day

          Traveller, there is no path

          The path is made by walking.

          By walking you make a path

         And turning, you look back

         At a way you will never tread again.

         Traveller, there is no road 

         Only wakes in the sea.

                          Antonio Machado

Jan’s uneventful but spectacular recovery
Of the two ladies with brain tumours, the one with the lesser of the symptoms, let us call her Jan, makes a complete and uneventful recovery. She came with her partner, they both embraced the basic message and believed she could recover.

Together, they took up on the therapeutic nutrition with diligence, meditated intensively, took a positive approach to all they did and found new meaning and joy in life through the illness.

Jan made a spectacularly uneventful recovery without any medical treatment. She just got better every week until repeat scans showed she was cancer free.

By the way, Jan had been told by her well meaning and caring doctors that there was no effective treatment available to her, that there was nothing more they could do for her; nothing she could do except go home, get her affairs in order and seek Palliative Care when things got really bad.

Mary’s slow and labored recovery
By contrast the woman in the couch, lets call her Mary, had many ups and downs and nearly did die several times over the next 12 months. I saw more of Mary through necessity and came to know her well.

Mary was determined to recover as she had a young daughter to care for. Amazingly, each time she
fell in a hole, she seemed to find a way through – sometimes via something new she learnt from me, sometimes with help from others. For example, Mary was one of the first I observed who responded well at a critical time to intravenous Vitamin C.

But again, having been given the same story before she joined the group by her treating doctors, “there is nothing more we can do for you”, and having had no medical treatment, around 12 months later Mary was confirmed by scans to be cancer free.

What happened over the next few years to these two women was truly remarkable. One died in extraordinary circumstances and taught me perhaps more than anyone about the need to address a particular aspect of cancer recovery, while the other survived and is still alive despite having had to face the most extraordinary of circumstances.

So next week, Part 2 – What is involved in ongoing, long-term cancer survival.


Meditation Retreats
Ruth and I, with the help of Liz Stillwell, will personally lead our next 7 day meditation retreat in New Zealand :  October 22 - 28.

Next Aussie one, April 2017 in the Yarra Valley.

In NZ, we will give attention to the major experiences of deeper meditation – stillness, clarity and bliss. We will explore these states experientially and examine their relevance in an ongoing and satisfying meditation practice.

This promises to be one of the very best retreats – well worth travelling from Australia to attend, or making the journey to the glorious Mana Retreat Centre from anywhere around New Zealand.


Meditation Teacher Training 
The program - October 10 - 14 - may be fully booked already – check with the office.
Next year's dates will be available very soon...


Specific cancer residential programs 

8 days In Wanaka New Zealand 
- November 3 - 10
This is a comprehensive program focusing on activating and targeting the immune system, accelerating healing, much more on a therapeutic lifestyle, along with a range of strategies for heightening emotional health and wellbeing.

Again we will have the incomparable help of Liz Stillwell and the amazing Stew Burt - the ideal starting point for everyone affected by cancer.

5 days in the Yarra Valley : November 14 - 18
More designed as a follow-up cancer program for those who have done a previous program with Ruth and myself, the Foundation, or one of its affiliates. Call the Foundation for details of eligibility.


1 comment:

  1. Fantastic Amen om om om eta eta eta
    Im also a grateful survivor.

    May Godbless us all.