A Matter of Life and Death:
One of my clients, a cancer patient said to me, “I now believe God has given me the power through my own mind to heal myself.” A few weeks before her death she had begun to doubt that. She had lived two and a half years beyond her prognosis, she had fought for her life and it appeared for a long time she was winning. Now, for so many terrible reasons she had given up.
I struggled for answers; she struggled for relief.
Why had the hypnosis we had used so well together ceased to be effective? During one visit I paid her in the hospital not long before she died, I got the all-important clues. Flossie looked beaten. I sensed fear that had not been there before. I asked her about it: Her eyes met mine and widened, she seemed astonished at her own thoughts and the words she spoke were, “ Why yes! It’s the pain. Everything they do here hurts me.” She held my hand and looked at me pleadingly.
All her self-hypnosis, the hypnosis sessions I’d done and recorded for her, her courage, her strength had been made to seem futile in the glaring light of the heroic oncological maneuvers. The Doctors and hospital staff had taken over her body and she was once more a victim of cancer.
We talked a for little while, she responded with a smile to my voice as I induced hypnosis, her body relaxed and comfort came back, and some of her faith in herself. But she was still in the hospital; tubes in her nose and mouth, needles in her arm, while monitors told her caretakers about her physical condition. But Flossie wasn’t in charge of all that; somewhere in the brave mind that had extended her life beyond a few weeks prognosis, and given it quality and renewed strength, she believed had lost total control. Whether she had the power to heal was constantly being questioned, even denied by the medical staff and even family members. Sadly the outside voices saying that she has no power over cancer had silenced the internal one who had encouraged and kept her alive and strong for so long.
I called her every day during my dinner hour to help relieve her pain, to laugh and cry, whichever she needed. One day I told her of my plans to visit her again over the weekend, as I had done regularly when she was in the hospital. She said, “No darling, its all right, I have my tapes and your voice in my mind.”
It was then I knew she had begun to let go, because until then even the prospect of my visits were encouraging to her, and she looked forward to them eagerly. I did go to visit her though. She appeared to have shrunk; I saw a tiny frail human- being on that bed, hooked up to machines, while she lay helpless in the fetal position. She was pleased to see me, and brightened somewhat, though she confided in me that some days she wanted to let go, let God take her, but other times she wanted to get well and live. She hadn’t decided yet.
Her husband George called me now and then to report, or I would call him; he needed support too. One day George cried over the telephone, “Why doesn’t God take her?” I replied without a seconds thought, “George, maybe even God doesn’t have that much power.”
My response surprised me. Where it came from I do not know. As I thought about it, I realized that as long as Flossie was, on some level still fighting for her life and not letting go, so she would live on.
A week later Flossie died. George sobbed with relief and grief. Their 50 years together on this realm was ended. He told me she asked him before she took her last breath to join her in the afterlife as soon as possible. He promised he would.
I became wistful. In my own grief, which was of course different than Georges, I sensed within myself a stronger than ever awareness of the power we have over life and death.
Flossie wasn’t the first cancer patient I’d worked with or the last. I had cured myself of six months to live prognosis without the aid of doctors many years before: I knew then as I do now how powerful the mind body connection is. I knew all too well how to handle the struggles and tragedies of life and death. But now there was more confirmation than ever that what constitutes healing is not medicine, nor any kind of therapy; it’s all the aspects of mind, body and emotions and spirit working in harmony. And who is responsible for them? The doctor? God? A therapist? NO, it’s the person, the whole person. All aspects of that person must agree, and then decide to live and be well, or die.
Healing is not a miracle, but a process. Often the external influences compete with the internal ones that would otherwise support life. Doctor’s prognosis and prescriptions and those who believe they are the only trustworthy methods impose their beliefs on the patient. If those who surround the patient have no faith in their ability to choose healing and life, it is hard for the patient to believe in their own powers to heal naturally; or effectively support medical maneuvers. They capitulate to the notion that chemistry does it all; or that it works or doesn’t work.
No textbook formula, medical or other method or device will heal the person. The patient needs to play this by ear as a musician who picks up a tune and plays it without the music sheet. The patient needs to open him or herself up to and make good use of inherent wisdom of mind and body that can orchestrate healing.
Of course there are ways to formalize the process, structure it. I develop it with the client; the right visualizations, nurture belief in personal power, and teach deep relaxation and use positive suggestion formulations in hypnosis. I help relieve them of pain. I help them heal emotional wounds, and un-stress. I teach them about their natural healing energies and resources and how to access and employ them. The patient learns to be a good the conductor, directing and harmonizing the myriad nature given bio-physiological instruments as well as medical aids for healing. But in the end, it is the patient, the client who does it.
At times I have felt like a lone soldier trying to protect and innocent victim from the onslaught of negative attitudes and fears that prevail everywhere around them. I never give up, because I made a commitment to help. And that’s all I can do. Help.
Yet help in how to participate in his or her own healing may not be what the person truly wants. Sometimes they want a miracle, an instant cure. That’s understandable. No one wants to struggle and suffer. Or they believe that only the doctors have power to heal them and therefore they play no conscious role in the process.
I have cancer patients referred to me by their doctors and others who know of my work. They come for my help to deal with their illness and the pain and/or the side effects of allopathic oncological cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. I have had a few come to me to help them pass away in comfort because they have been told they are soon going to die, and that they stand no chance of healing. Sadly they believe what the doctors predicted: That is until I inform them of their personal powers, then some choose to fight. Most win and live long and healthy lives.
And yes, the patient can get tired of fighting, though they haven’t lost courage; they are simply exhausted in the battle. It is then that taking time out from the fight for brief time to regain energy is a must. It doesn’t mean he or she has given up; they are just resting between rounds like prizefighters in the ring.
One man informed me that he didn’t want to fight for his life, or undergo treatments that he believed would only hurt him more, or delay his death. He told me life was boring. He said, “Don’t try and talk me out of it, I just don’t want to suffer as I die.”
I was told later by family members who were with him at the end that he listened to my recorded voice while comfortably passing away: Exactly within the time range they had given him to live.
Another cancer patient I worked with decided she just wanted to live long enough to see her children graduate from high school. Although she had beaten the cancer working with me several years before; when it recurred she put up a fight until her last child graduated and then the cancer consumed her.
When people say things like, “I just want to live long enough to, for example, “See my grandchildren,” or, “ To see my daughter married.” They do exactly that. They seldom outlive their own predetermined life span.
George did indeed join Flossie only a few weeks after her demise. He had promised to go to her, and nothing could have come between him and his commitment to his wife.
So without a commitment to life, the patient cannot and will not be healed. And those words that sprang from my mouth that day, speaking to George, echo again within; maybe it isn’t all God’s doing: We are given the power to choose life or death.
An important postscript: Of course our lives can suddenly be taken away from us by some violent act, an accident, or a surgical error, and numerous other causes. In those cases we have no opportunity for conscious determination to live or die. However, when we are in a battle with a disease or other life threatening issue, we have enormous power to make the choice to fight to win or succumb. Of course many factors come into play, some known and some not. Life and death hold many mysteries for us. However, it needs to be better known that we have that choice and there are ways you can learn to access and apply the nature given resources to aid you in your endeavor to live and be well.
I wish you well , TTFN and all the best, always fro Elaine Kissel