Working with cancer

There’s plenty that can be done to support someone through chemo and radiotherapy, if their doctors are happy with the use of herbs alongside their own treatments. But as well as the herbs, there are other forms of healing that can strengthen and hearten someone when they are on this difficult journey.
One of these is visualisation. Studies seem to show that, rather than using the imagery of battle, it is more effective to think in terms of transforming, calming or re-integrating the ‘rogue’ cells. This makes a lot of sense; who wants a civil war going on in their own body? And yet people are always talking about their ‘fight’ or ‘struggle’ with cancer. In treating it as an invading enemy, you become a victim, and that’s not always a very helpful way to see yourself.
My partner has cancer. It’s a high grade, very vigorous sarcoma that has recurred three times. He’s had the maximum dose of radiotherapy, and it doesn’t respond to chemo, so he tries to eat well, exercise, meditate regularly – and, of course, he takes lots of herbs. Just now, it’s in remission. He says he thinks of it as ‘very young and confused; it doesn’t know how to behave.’ He talks to it as you might talk to a frightened child, or an animal, slowly and gently, inviting it to calm down.
In terms of what’s happening on the cellular level, this makes sense. Cancer cells are the result of a transcription error; instead of whatever type of cells are supposed to be growing in that part of your body, they are undifferentiated, and they don’t know what to do. Chemo and radiotherapy are toxic to them, and if successful, the tumour will shrink; but that’s not the same as healing.
Current thinking is that inflammation in some form or other is a major precipitating factor in many cancers. Inflammation needs soothing; it needs gentle handling, not attacking. Killing off the cancer cells isn’t a cure, it just buys you time to deal with what gave rise to them in the first place. And in the end, it serves you better to think of your body not as a battleground, but as a temple.