How To Induce Spontaneous Cancer Remission
Updated July 27, 2016
This is the personal story of Donald Coggan, founder of Ability Mission. Told in the first person, this article was initially published on LinkedIn.
This article is so titled for two reasons: (1) spontaneous remission is well reported in the medical literature that I could access as a layman and (2) I was curious as to what causes spontaneous remission and whether it could be intentionally induced.
What exactly is spontaneous remission?
The 2011 National Institutes of Health (NIH) article references the definition of spontaneous regression and remission from cancer by Everson and Cole in their 1966 book as:
"the partial or complete disappearance of a malignant tumour in the absence of all treatment, or in the presence of therapy which is considered inadequate to exert significant influence on neoplastic disease."
As to the terms 'remission' and 'regression' a Wikipedia article, which also references the Everson and Cole work, says:
"Spontaneous remissions concern cancers of the haematopoietic system (blood cancer, e.g. leukemia), while spontaneous regressions concern palpable tumors; however, both notions are often used interchangeably."
How It Started... And Stopped
In October 2010, I endured a painful biopsy that allowed a cold unfeeling urologist to announce -- like he was speaking to a colleague about a lab rat -- that I had cancer cells in my prostate.
On the relatively bright side, he told me I was one of the lucky few that did not suffer an infection from the biopsy.
At that point, I decided to go on with my life without a formal treatment program, for a number of reasons:
1. The Medical System
For years, I had not been a big fan of the medical system. When asked if I have any allergies, my standard response has always been, "Yeah, I'm allergic to doctors and hospitals." The main reason for this is that I've felt doctors tend to treat symptoms with pills instead of getting to the root cause.
That said, I do appreciate the work of the surgeon who, back in the 70s, reassembled a toe joint broken into 30 pieces in a Karate match. That kind of intervention makes sense to me.
There is a very dark side, though, and that is the number of deaths caused by medical system errors. The NIH article "Errors in Health Care: A Leading Cause of Death and Injury" says:
"...perhaps as many as 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors."
"New research estimates up to 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors."
In fact, medical error is now reported as the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer.
There is less information about Canada; however, the NIH publication "The Canadian Adverse Events Study" has alarming information about Adverse Events in Canada, including deaths:
"...of the almost 2.5 million annual hospital admissions in Canada similar to the type studied, about 185 000 are associated with an AE."
The report defines an Adverse Event as, "unintended injuries or complications that are caused by health care management, rather than by the patient’s underlying disease, and that lead to death, disability at the time of discharge or prolonged hospital stays."
In my own 24-hour hospital stay in February of 2016, as a layman, I recognized at least four errors on the part of staff. They were minor, but indicative nonetheless of the potentially serious harm that could happen.
2. Cancer Overdiagnosis
Wanting to know for myself, I did a bit of research and found that Prostate Cancer Overdiagnosis (and Overtreatment) is a problem. This September 2012 NIH article offers a good current overview.
Most doctors I've seen are rushed and overworked. Some are very quick on the draw of the prescription pad to prescribe a pill, seemingly so as not to prolong the consultation.
Maybe it's better for them to overdiagnose and overtreat rather than underdiagnose and undertreat and run the risk of comebacks and legal action.
3. Self-Healing Confidence
Over the years, I've always believed that the body has an incredible capacity to self-heal if we let it (and encourage it) to do so.
With no dependence on the medical system, I've easily taken care of backaches, headaches, deep cuts, bruises and colds through natural means such as rest, meditation, diet, exercise and acupuncture. So why would this situation be any different?
4. Family/Friends Fear Reaction
This is the biggie. I've seen family and friends react in fear to symptoms they believe would lead to sickness and, ultimately, death. This is a normal reaction for most people, but not for me.
I don't fear death; however, I did want to avoid being surrounded by that fear reaction. It would have diverted so much energy from the healing process.
Even today, now that it is all out in the open, the negativity of the fear reaction by others requires energy to deal with, energy that I feel could be put to better use healing.
It Worked Until...
That worked for over five years until January of 2016 when I felt crippling pain in my back and chest.
This time I could hardly wait to see my family doctor -- to help relieve the suffering that this time I wasn't able to take care of by myself.
The appointment was February 3, 2016 and her approach was completely different from that of the robotic urologist. After a gentle, caring empathetic consultation, she even helped me put on my boots and lace them up, as extreme pain prevented me from doing it myself.
Subsequent blood tests, x-rays and scans showed that I had prostate cancer that had spread to my bones.
Because I also had severe kidney weakness, likely due to my bladder never emptying completely, I went into the hospital February 19. I left the next day with a catheter, which cleared up the kidney problem in a few weeks.
So then I was able to focus completely on the cancer.
Even though I've taken care of myself pretty well over the years, I can see in retrospect that I was only paying lip service in some respects, especially one (attitude), which is quite relevant to this article.
The Crisis Concept
Often it takes a crisis to stimulate us to act and do the right things. A crisis (like terrible pain associated with cancer) offers something very concrete to deal with.
So, like just about everyone else with a cancer diagnosis, I started researching the subject.
I decided to really take charge of things. The first step was to appoint myself general manager of my own health.
And then instead of resisting the medical system, I looked for ways to collaborate that allowed my own self-healing beliefs to blend with medical interventions that I felt were helpful, for example:
- The catheterization was helpful, probably life-saving, because the alternative was eventual kidney failure and dialysis.
- Blood tests and bone scans have provided measurable data to work with.
- Being able to communicate with the various parties involved by phone, fax and email also helps with that being-in-charge feeling.
- After countless hours of research, I concluded that there is no single magical treatment, no silver bullet.
But spontaneous remissions do occur and doctors do acknowledge them, even though they'll likely not attribute a cause other than possibly saying, "It's a miracle."
So do doctors really believe in miracles?
Maybe, maybe not.
Maybe for them remission is just an intermediate step before a relapse and death.
But spontaneous remissions ARE a fact of life. The previously cited NIH article says:
"The spontaneous healing of cancer is a phenomenon that has been observed for hundreds and thousands of years and after having been the subject of many controversies, it is now accepted as an indisputable fact."
The Care Conundrum
My family doctor, oncologist and new urologist all recommended hormone therapy as a start, which I accepted and am comfortable with, because I see it as a more targeted approach. The American Cancer Society Guide says:
"Hormone therapy is also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or androgen suppression therapy. The goal is to reduce levels of male hormones, called androgens, in the body, or to stop them from affecting prostate cancer cells."
My oncologist and urologist also suggested chemotherapy with docetaxel, which I'm not comfortable with because it looks like carpet bombing to me, not only killing cancer cells but also disabling my immune system.
And although the December 2013 NIH news release mentions a "significant improvement," it looks to me like any improvement is counteracted by side effects and the potential for other damage caused by a weakened immune system.
My research showed that chemotherapy in general isn't that effective, it can have terrible side effects, and other serious conditions can be caused by it. (See the NIH article by way of example.)
Searching for alternatives always returned me to the subject of spontaneous remission. What made it happen (other than a miracle)?The 1989 Challis and Stam report states:
"In summary, we are left to conclude that, although a great number of interesting and unusual cases continue to be published annually, there is still little conclusive data that explains the occurrence of spontaneous regression."
That sounds discouraging, but fortunately, two authors have recently reported on cases of spontaneous remission in a way that sheds a bright contemporary light on the causes.
Enter Radical Remission
Kelly Turner, PhD, researched the subject of spontaneous remission, and in fact wrote her doctoral thesis on it, eventually resulting in the NY Times best-selling book, Radical Remission.
After analyzing multiple reported cases of spontaneous remission, Dr. Turner discovered 75 factors that had helped patients rid themselves of their cancers. But there were nine that kept recurring in every interview she did. They are:
- Radically changing your diet
- Taking charge of your health
- Following your intuition
- Taking herbs and supplements
- Releasing suppressed emotions
- Increasing positive emotions
- Embracing social support
- Deepening spiritual connections
- Having strong reasons for living
Surprisingly, only two of the nine are concrete physical things: radically changing your diet and taking herbs and supplements.
The rest are all spiritual/mental/behavioral, or maybe just miraculous.
Apart from occasional short-term lapses, my diet, often containing herbs, was already pretty good, so that could not be a major factor for me. Maybe I could have exercised more.
Overall, because of pretty good eating habits, I never felt a need to take any supplements. I do believe though that a health crisis could require supplements in the sense of taking drastic action to correct drastic conditions.
But what about all that spiritual/mental/behavioral stuff?
How does that all work? I needed answers!
Further research led me to another best-selling book, Evolve Your Brain by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Chapter 2 describes the four pillars of healing in a way that makes a lot of sense to me.
Like Dr. Turner, Dr. Dispenza spent years interviewing people who had experienced spontaneous remissions and healings.
Dispenza's conclusions are more tightly focused on the spiritual/mental/behavioral aspects. According to his research, the four pillars of healing are:
- An innate higher intelligence gives us life and can heal the body. Most people believe in a greater force. Dispenza connects it and that inner force that "organizes and regulates all the functions of the body."
- Thoughts are real; thoughts directly affect the body. The people he interviewed believed this and used it to make conscious changes in their own minds and lives.
- We can reinvent ourselves. Those interviewed realized they had to go all the way in their thinking. Each person had to become a new person by thinking his or her way into a new life.
- We are capable of paying attention so well that we can lose track of relative space and time. This is the key part. Just hoping for improvement wasn't enough. It took substantial effort for each survivor to reach that state of thinking/meditating where real change was possible.
See this page on Dr. Joe's site for a fascinating in-depth explanation of each of the four points.
Not A Causal Relationship
The research done by Kelly and Dispenza is observational, meaning that we can't prove that the factors they mention actually caused remissions to occur.
That said, their research and reporting are well documented. And from a practical point of view, I don't see much difference in quality and credibility between their work and other observational studies, such as those reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other recognized bodies.
A pertinent example is the Mayo Clinic study Hypnosis in Modern Medicine by James H. Stewart, MD, reported April 2005, which states:
"... patients treated with hypnosis experienced substantial benefits for many different medical conditions."
It makes a strong and credible case for hypnosis -- a mind thing -- without the proof of double-blind clinical trials.
The work goes on. Dr. Dispenza continues to educate through interviews and workshops across the country and indeed the world. Dr. Turner continues to document cases through her website called The Radical Remission Project with remission stories to be found and submitted.
Both Dr. Turner and Dr. Dispenza offer online courses:
These are just two of many good resources to get familiar with the concept of "inducing spontaneous remission."
A Prediction That Came True
There's an unusual twist to my personal story that goes back 55 years. Back in 1961, a friend and fellow student at McGill predicted the future I'm now living, showing in particular that it takes a life-threatening crisis to really act.
This friend (let's call him Graham) got involved in door-to-door sales operated by criminals. He wanted out, so he devised a plan that involved me phoning him at his "workplace" to say that his mother was mortally ill and he had to return to England immediately.
To Graham's surprise, I actually made that phone call and helped "rescue" him. In thanking me, he told me he never thought I'd do it and, strangely, he added that my nemesis in life would be NOT doing the right thing at the right time.
I never forgot that and have acted accordingly. Or so I thought!
Over the years, I've read a lot of advice such as that given by Kelly Turner and Joe Dispenza. Looking back, I can see having put much into practice.
But I can also see having missed key elements in the spiritual/mental/behavioral area. It's clear now that...
You can't just talk the talk; you have to walk the talk. Completely.
Have you ever found yourself being positive almost all the time, but then found yourself reviewing negative things (like anger, regret, resentment, hate, envy, helplessness) in your head over and over again?
That inner conversation is a reflection of our true beliefs. In other words, even though we might talk a good line, our true beliefs are based on what we say to ourselves, when and where no one else is looking and listening.
According to Dr. Joe, science says that those thoughts produce a measurable effect in the brain. The brain acts on that information to produce an effect in the body, which can manifest as a disease.
Armed with this insight, I asked myself, "How can I change my thinking, rewire my brain and induce my own spontaneous remission?"
It's not that easy, but I now have a plan. In addition to doing the hormone therapy and eating, exercising and sleeping well, the steps I've taken are:
- Reviewing past thought patterns and identifying the negatives that need to be corrected.
- Creating new thinking and other habits, in particular by changing how I react to outside stimuli.
- Meditating on how this crisis was the wake-up call I needed to learn an important life lesson. And now that I've learned the lesson, I no longer need the reminder.
- Seeing the medical system as a collaborator in my well-being while still staying in charge of and taking responsibility for it.
Will this result in spontaneous remission for me?
Time will tell.
I survived beyond five years after first being told I had cancer cells, so that is something to build on. I'm keeping an open mind (even about chemotherapy) and taking things day by day.
DISCLAIMER! This article offers Donald Coggan's own personal view on health and healing. It is not intended to give medical advice. Anyone with a health problem should consult with a medical professional, which is something Coggan himself says he should have done much earlier than he did.
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