Mind over matter

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
• My acupuncturist recently noted she had many patients and friends being diagnosed with cancer. She asked me why I thought there was so much cancer.

I said what I have repeated so often: stress, anxiety, anger and negative thinking suppress the immune system. Cancer is like a terrorist group intent on taking over everything. With weak defenses and no countermeasures, terrorists gain a lot of territory, kill a lot of people and hold many hostage. It would seem cancer does the same thing.

Certainly, exposure to toxins and poor eating habits can be contributing factors. However, we all hear of people who have not taken care of their health and still smoke well into their eighties and yet are still going strong. What makes the difference?

A strong constitution perhaps, but just what is that? I believe it comes down to our “psychological constitution.” We don’t often see strong, healthy, vibrantly alive people filled with anger, worry and negative thinking.

We are all aware of physical toxins that are harmful to health, but we might not see that habits of mind are equally as toxic. I have written before that tension, anger, worry and negativity suppress the immune system for six to eight hours after we experience them – another six to eight hours each time we have the experience, even if we are just playing it over in our minds. It is easy to see how one could have a constantly suppressed immune system.

Scientist say that people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for some kinds of cancers. The immune system plays a role in identifying and destroying cancer cells. The links are clear. In The Survival of the Wisest, Jonas Salk identifies aggression, anger and the win/lose mentality as counter evolutionary. Clearly, this is true on a species level as well as on the level of the individual.

A woman I know well was diagnosed a few months ago with incurable cancer that had spread throughout her body. Chemotherapy could extend her life for maybe two years. When I visited her in hospital, she said she would not go through chemotherapy and would just let death happen.

She admitted to having been very negative all of her life, carrying a lot of anger and resentment. She could get herself very agitated and upset with people and situations. Being around her could be very stressful.

She sat home and became very depressed until one day she decided she did not want to die depressed and alone at home. She decided to do chemotherapy and to get out and live. She also decided she would have no negative effects from the chemotherapy. She would lose her hair, that was okay, but she refused to have any other side effects.

She adopted an incredibly positive attitude. She has had three rounds of chemo with absolutely no ill effects. She is full of life, energy, vitality and she is pain-free. Recently, she was out dancing! She has begun to notice how many people are quite negative. She won’t be around them.

The beautiful part is that during her three hours receiving chemo she spends the whole time sharing her indomitable spirit and getting the other patients laughing. At the end of the session, there are hugs all around. They all look forward to their next time.

I would not be at all surprised if her incurable cancer goes into remission.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change Hypnosis CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca.

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