What Caused My Cancer?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'm reading "Grace and Grit" by Ken Wilbur, a brilliant man who has been able to integrate writing from around the world into a coherent map of the spiritual journey for humans. His wife, Treya, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and this book is about their amazing journey together.
When first diagnosed Treya asks the obvious question "What caused my cancer?" She was 36 at the time, and had a perfectly healthy lifestyle. She questioned whether there were mental, emotional, spiritual or other causes (beyond the physical) which if she addressed and corrected would lead to her recovery. For instance if she believed that repressed emotions suppress the immune system which lead to cancer, then learning to express emotions in a healthy way would empower the body to fight cancer.
I've heard and read many, many of these theories over the years. And the fact is that for any one person any of these theories may apply - so I don't discount the possibility especially if the person who is telling me believes it is the cause of their cancer.
But the reality is that I don't know. I believe that the vast vast majority of cancer are simply due to chance. As people age the cells degenerate with time, allowing for the cells to eventually carry enough changes in their genes to begin to divide out of control. Exposure to toxins like smoke or a fatty diet/lack of exercise can speed up the process, but essentially chance determines who gets cancer and when they get it.
I like Ken Wilbur's answer to his wife's question. "Since nobody knows what causes the cancer, I don't know what you should change in order to cure it. Why don't you use cancer as a metaphor and a spur to change all those things that you wanted to change in your life anyway."
So beyond getting the best care convential medicine has to offer, and empowering your body with healthy habits, practicing a relaxation technique, and working on finding peace and meaning in your life, use cancer as an opportunity to change in a way that's just right for you.

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