Cancer as Initiation: Surviving the Fire: A Guide for Living with Cancer for Patient, Provider, Spouse, Family, or Friend

Cancer as Initiation: Surviving the Fire: A Guide for Living with Cancer for Patient, Provider, Spouse, Family, or Friend

Cancer as Initiation: Surviving the Fire: A Guide for Living with Cancer for Patient, Provider, Spouse, Family, or Friend

Cancer as Initiation: Surviving the Fire: A Guide for Living with Cancer for Patient, Provider, Spouse, Family, or Friend

Synopsis

"Fear gripped my soul when I discovered a marble-sized lump hidden in my left breast during a self-examination in July of 1991...." So begins this, one of the most powerful and inspiring personal accounts of breast cancer ever written. Breast cancer now claims the lives of 46,000 American women each year, and strikes terror in the minds of many more. The lesson of Barbara Stone's experience is that cancer need not be dreaded as a death sentence, but can better be seen as a challenge to become more alive - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Barbara Stone fought cancer with the best tools that Western medicine has been able to discover: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. She combined these treatments with the best techniques drawn from Eastern and Alternative medicine: meditation, yoga, herbs, acupuncture, cranial osteopathy manipulation, diet changes, sauna baths, and Kirlian photography.

Excerpt

The popular press had become obsessed with breast cancer. Perusal of magazines targeted for women show repeated efforts to “educate” their readers, often resorting to gross oversimplification or even subtle mistruths. Despite the number of magazine articles and television “sound bites,” there are very few in-depth discussions of the reality of breast cancer from a patient’s viewpoint. Barbara Stone has written an excellent account of her own personal experience as a breast cancer patient. This book shares some features with others of its kind. Barbara’s experience with the fear associated with the diagnosis of breast cancer and the discomforts of surgery and adjuvant treatment could be “every woman’s story.” Obviously there are variations between people, but few would dispute her frank discussions about the suffering a breast cancer patient endures with our current treatments. Beyond these chapters, however, it is clearly Barbara Stone’s personal story, reflection, and vision.

Most patients, at one time or another, ask their physicians, “Why did I get this cancer?” Occasionally, we have some sort of an answer if the patient has engaged in very high risk behavior (for example, a lung cancer patient who smoked) or has a very strong history of cancer in the family. Usually, as in Barbara’s case, we have no idea. I am certain that most patients gradually forget the question, or attribute it to “God’s will.” Ms. Stone takes the question to a logical extreme, and describes her cancer as an “initiation rite.” She has drawn on beliefs of other cultures as well as dream analysis and other techniques to create a very reasonable and readable account of this initiation. She has obviously survived this rite, and as such has become stronger for it. Barbara Stone articulates a concept that I have seen in many other patients who put their cancer behind them and emerge with new life purpose, direction, and vigor. Although few of my other patients use Barbara’s lexicon, I have no doubt that the phenomenon is real and worthy of scientific study. I thank Barbara for bringing these ideas and concepts to print.

I am convinced, as are many oncologists, that there is clearly a mind-body connection. Patients who somehow achieve an inner . . .

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