I Defied a Death Sentence
How to rise above the fear of disease diagnosis
by Bradford McIntyre
The doctor took me into his office and closed the door. Every word he uttered seemed to run together in my mind.
There was so much frightening information. He advised me to go home, inform my family, and arrange my finances and funeral.
I had six months to live!
My body began to vibrate and even my teeth chattered uncontrollably. Emotions, fear and a powerful surge of adrenaline
like nothing I had ever before experienced took hold of me. I was not prepared for what I was hearing. Only six months to live -- what should I say? How should I deal with it?
Was I really going to die?
Six terrifying months came and went. Then 18 months, two years. It was then that I first realized my own senses were
not really buying into this death sentence. Inspired, I searched for anything that would give me emotional support and strength.
I read self-help books and attended workshops and support groups. I began to incorporate into my life massage, body rebalancing,
craniosacral therapy, reflexology, meditation and visualization, immune-boosting vitamins, and oxygen and ozone treatments. I learned
how to be healthy emotionally. As a result, I healed physically.
Overall, there have been many changes in how I think and what I put in my body. The results speak for themselves. Sixteen
years after getting a death sentence, I'm still alive and have learned how to live a full life!
Although researchers are still learning about the mind-body connection, we do know that how we think and feel plays
a key role in the manifestation of disease. Worry, fear, guilt, loss and stresses can suppress immune function and contribute
to or cause sickness. Studies with healthy animals show that when subjected to constant fear and stress, they surrender the will
to live. Similarly, many in the medical profession still convey information to patients in a way that promotes fear. Many patients
are told that they will die, and do. Many others discover through will and rediscovering the purpose for being, the ability to live,
and often for much longer periods of time than predicted.
My concern is that doctors often provide no hope. No one should be told he or she has six months to live! We need
to find better ways for providing care and improving the quality of life for people living with serious disease. We can recognize
the influence that thoughts and emotions have on our health and the importance of holistic therapies that nourish all aspects
of being. Positive thinking, nutrition, exercise, supplements, spiritual discipline, holistic therapies and medical resources
all contribute to wellness and a longer lifespan. All this should be discussed between health professionals and patient, allowing
for a peace of mind and a quality of life not given by time-allotted diagnosis.
Explanations of test results or treatments should be given in a supportive, non-threatening, non-fatalistic and
non-judgemental tone. The language and voice used to convey information is very important, and is part of what we call a "bedside
manner." It's even more important to receive diagnostic information without personal opinions. Health professionals should teach patients
to take responsibility for their health, not to be victims. They should teach and assist patients to live!
People don't usually look at life-threatening illness as an opportunity. But, without diminishing the seriousness of
the disease or sentimentalizing its impact, illness can be a wake-up call. We don't have to detach ourselves from the illness, as much
as think about it differently. Let go of the fear. Stop thinking about dying and get on with living!
"There have been many changes in how I think and what I put in my body. The results speak for themselves. Sixteen years after getting a
death sentence, I'm still alive and have learned how to live a full life!"
Mind Over Cancer
Just as it can now be scientifically insinuated that negative thoughts produce a negative chemical reaction, it has been scientifically shown that positive thoughts
can help reverse any such process, and the circumstantial evidence for this is overwhelming. In fact, since 1988, the realities of the
mind-body connection have been scientifically demonstrated and enshrined in a new discipline: "psychoneuroimmunology," meaning
"mind to nerves to immune system."
We are talking about harnessing the limitless power of a positive mental attitude, and it makes no difference how you
articulate this idea to yourself: positive thinking, good attitudes, faith in God, faith in yourself. We are not presuming to
give any lessons here, for the mental aspects of each case of cancer are even more individualized than are its physical
aspects. But we do insist that you do everything possible to take control of your life-and to try to think good
thoughts every day. You may find a liberating effect from thinking about the good, not the bad, that is in
your life, and emphasizing the former over the latter.
The final victory over cancer often resides-as it does in so many other things-in the mind.
Source: Now That You Have Cancer by Dr Robert W. Bradford and Michael L. Culbert, DSc, 1992.
About the Author
More than 16 years after receiving a death sentence, Bradford McIntyre remains a dedicated advocate for active health.
Source: alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition - April 2002. #234
"Reproduced with permission - alive"