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SELF HELP SERIES: So You Have Cancer!

On Treating Cancer Behaviorally as Well

As a psychologist I am in awe of how the body, when relaxed and neutralized, can heal itself from within. In the 1960s we began to realize how much control we actually have over our Sympathetic Nervous System (I always say the Sympathetic System, the flight or fight system, has no Sympathy). Neil Miller began the quest and found we could actually control our SNS, then things like biofeedback came along to demonstrate how effective you can be at bringing the human body to homeostasis. We hear mostly about the CNS but it is the parallel system that holds the key to self healing. Of course Western Medicine is not to be denied in it's effectiveness and all methods should be employed, but Siegel's research has now clearly demonstrated that behavioral techniques and new habits have a direct effect on healing. Your own immune system is what cures cancer, so learn how to - TURN IT ON!

It goes much deeper than just treating cancer. Relaxation, good nutrition, exercise, stopping negative thinking and spiritual soundness all effect blood pressure, muscle tension, blood sugar and adrenalin, a whole host of gastro-intestinal issues, certainly the nervous system, breathing, vasoconstriction and all the problems that come with that (heart, stroke, migraines). The stress response is natural and necessary for survival. It's just that it's out of control these days with all the garbage input from media, plus for you the added fears of "the dreaded cancer." Thank God for the stress response or you and I or our ancestors would not be around to have these conversations! It's just necessary to keep it in check until we are actually being chased by a tiger. And I don't know about you but I ain't been chased by no tigers lately - perhaps a small dog on a bike now and then but then that adrenalin rush usually kicks in flawlessly and I survive to ride another day. Embrace your cancer and apply the self-healing powers of the relaxation response while you practice daily - reducing negative thinking. Remember, you are a big part of the cure. Believe!

Practice makes perfect in these techniques as in sports or most everything we do every day. So daily habit (control of) normal body systems have a powerful effect on health by allowing the body to take regular breaks throughout the day from the stress response. I personally feel that physiological psychological techniques are coming into their own. Finally our work-a-holic western medical culture is being melted with other cultures and prevention and cure is being recognized as mainstream. There is a certain peace and confidence in practicing relaxation and stopping negative thinking and that's part of the cure. How many times do you take one minute for yourself? Dr. Herbert Benson says if you take one minute to relax, deep breathe, center yourself, you can go for hours helping others.

Look for articles, books, on stopping negative thinking (you simply don't want to yield to depression, and negative thinking is at the root of depression) but anything by Albert Ellis will suffice. Albert is to modern psychotherapy what Freud was to the beginnings of psychiatry.

You might want to find a therapist who specializes in your area of need and see them once every three weeks or so for awhile (your Cancer Treatment Center will probably have the names). And have you looked around you and identified the support group (aside from Family) that you want to share with, unload on, to help you through your cancer?

Read any two books/audio tapes by Dr. David Siegel.

Enjoy the day!

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