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OVERCOMING CANCER: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL

There is no cancer specialist who has not asked himself why one patient died whereas another, with virtually the same prognosis and the same treatment, recovered. Such a situation occurred with two patients who participated in our program. Each received the best available medical treatment. Each participated in the processes and techniques described in this book. But their responses were very different. Jerry Green and Bill Spinoza (fictitious names) had virtually identical diagnoses of lung cancer, which had also spread to the brain.

The day he received his diagnosis, Jerry resigned from life. He quit his job and, after taking care of his financial affairs, he settled in front of the television set, staring blankly hour after hour. Within twenty-four hours he was experiencing severe pain and lack of energy.

No one was able to get him interested in much of anything. He did remember that he had always wanted to make some bar stools for the house, so for a week or two he worked in his shop, with some signs of increased energy and reduced pain. But as soon as the bar stools were completed, he returned to the TV. His wife reported that he did not really watch it as much as he watched the clock, for fear that he would miss the time for taking his pain medication. Jerry showed no signs of response to radiation therapy, and within three months he was dead. Jerry's wife later recalled that both his parents and many of his close relatives had died of cancer, and in fact, Jerry had warned her when they were first married that he would die of cancer, too.

Bill Spinoza was also diagnosed with cancer of the lung, which had spread to his brain. The prognosis for his survival and the treatment were nearly identical to Jerry's. But Bill's response to the diagnosis was very different. For one thing, he took the illness as a time to review the priorities of his life. As a traveling sales manager he had been constantly on the go and, he said, had "never taken time to see the trees." Although he continued working, he rearranged his schedule so that he could take more time to do things that were enjoyable to him.

At our clinic, he participated actively in the therapy group and regularly used a mental imagery process he had learned there. He responded favorably to radiation therapy and became virtually symptom free. All the while he remained active. Approximately a year and a half after Bill left our program, he experienced several major emotional blows and, within a short time, he suffered a recurrence and died shortly thereafter.

Both patients had had the same diagnosis, both had received the same treatment. Yet Bill outlived Jerry by more than a year and considerably outlived the medical prognosis for that form of cancer. Furthermore, the quality of life that Bill lived was quite different; he was involved in life, active, enjoying his family and friends. Each patient responded to his treatment in ways that are not considered typical. Jerry's decline was more precipitous than would normally be expected. On the other hand, Bill outlived his prognosis by many months.

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