Stop Cancer Introduction

Lying still,
Breathing in, breathing out,
Healthy cells grow all by themselves.
I am free of cancer!

white-blood-cell-543471_1280This Zen poem came to me during my guided imagery session on the day of the Vernal Equinox, 1997. It represents the theme of this category (Stop Cancer): Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves. We have to be willing to allow our bodies to heal themselves by paying attention to our healing process, by paying attention to our breathing. We have to live moment by moment.

This category is devoted to cancer patients in general and bladder cancer patients in particular. It traces the symptoms and diagnosis of my bladder cancer from the onset of symptoms to Father’s Day, 1997 and beyond. It is given in frequent articles in diary format so that other sufferers of the disease or any other disease can make use of my experience in whatever way is beneficial to them. Hopefully, my readers will be inspired to take an active role in their own recovery and be willing to participate in their own healing, rather than being at the mercy of the surgeon’s knife. There is a considerable body of evidence that patients who have a positive mental attitude and engage in their own treatment have much better chance of long term survival.

Not everyone will want to do the amount of research I’ve done to find out about my disease, but if you do, the articles in Stop Cancer should give you a good idea of where to start and what resources are available to help you participate in your on healing. I have incorporated a lot of alternative medicine and spiritual practices in my recovery, and I hope to inspire you to do the same.

There are a few bits of background information that you should know in order to understand my motivation for doing this in the way that it is being done. First of all, I was a 57 year old male living in Marin County, California, one of the best places to live in the world, both from a pure aesthetic point of view, and because of its access to medical resources. The University of California at San Francisco Medical Center is just across the Golden Gate Bridge, and Stanford University Hospital is only fifty miles away. Furthermore, Marin General Hospital and its associated medical organizations are among the best in the country. So, right away, I feel that I am blessed to be living here.

Secondly, I am a person with a deep spiritual commitment. My orientation is Buddhist, and my interests lie in Interactive Guided Imagery1 (mind stories), the enneagram, and conscious evolution. Being diagnosed with bladder cancer was a shock to my system of values, but the supportive community I live in combined with my Buddhist outlook has made this period of my life reasonably tolerable.

Micah age 7
Micah age 7

Thirdly, you should know that cancer runs rampant in my family. My father died of bladder cancer at the age of 86 and my mother died of another form of cancer at the age of 71. In addition, my son, Micah, now 47, survived a stage four Wilm’s Tumor (kidney cancer) which he had in 1976. The key to his survival may have been the use of some of the supplementary medical care techniques described later in this blog, as the surgeon had given him up for dead. Even my surgeon said, “We weren’t saving many stage fours in those days.” My son’s story was told in two episodes of “In Search of…” with Leonard Nimoy in 1976 and 1980.

Finally, my younger sister died of Leukemia in 1968 at the age of 27. With all of this happening, you might think that I was “predisposed” to get the curse.

PLEASE NOTE: This material is copyright(c) 1997-2016, by Dr. Jerome Freedman. All Rights Reserved.

This document is meant to be a description of the author’s experience and he in no way takes responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any medical knowledge. The author assumes no responsibility for choices made by any of the readers of this material.

The author is not a physician and makes no claims about the potential usefulness of the subject matter herein to have any medical benefit. Please check with your doctor if you find something interesting that you would like to try.

[1] Interactive Guided Imagerysm is a service mark of The Academy for Guided Imagery, Mill Valley, CA.


Eric Vormanns

Eric Vormanns is a West African energy healer residing in Belgium.  He is in Marin until September 29, and I was referred to him by Leslie Davenport.  My session with him left me quite sad.  Even though he thought the cancer would eventually go away, he thought that I was not doing what I came to this life to do.  He thought that I should be writing, teaching, and practicing in the areas of healing and spiritual growth.  I felt sad because I knew that I lacked the courage to devote my life to these activities.  Of course, this web site and other activities contribute, but I don’t feel that it is enough.  I need to get Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves published and appear on talk shows all over.

In the evening, I went to Anna Halprin‘s class.  The picture I drew was quite amazing.  It was called, “grib-it,” and featured a frog and the stream of life.  I felt quite good expressing myself through this drawing.  It seemed to contain everything that I experienced in being with Thich Nhat Hanh.


Stop Cancer In Its Tracks: Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves
Buy This Book
to learn about
Mindfulness in Healing

“Pain, Love, and Happiness”

On Labor Day, I drove down to the University of California at Santa Barbara with Nancy Aberle, Gail Teehan’s friend from the Feldenkrais for a six day retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh.  We made the trip in about six and one-half hours, and enjoyed getting to know one another.  I imagine that she is a wonderful Feldenkrais teacher.

I was truly amazed at the turn out for the retreat, and how well organized it was for so many people.  I was placed in a dorm with an 85 year old gentleman, J. G. from Laguna Beach.  He was truly marvelous the whole six days.  It was wonderful to see a wealthy old Jew be so taken by Thay (a nickname for Thich Nhat Hanh).

Our meals were taken in silence in large tents set up by the dorm.  The food was strict vegetarian for the entire six days, and it was remarkably good.  I think I might have even gained three or four pounds!

The days began with walking meditation with Thay to and along the beach that runs at the edge of the campus.  With each step, there is one inhalation and one exhalation.  Naturally, I used “healthy…, free…” the whole time.  After about thirty minutes of walking, Thay would sit on a dune practicing sitting meditation for about twenty minutes, and we would all join him.  Then we would walk back to the central part of the retreat in the same manner as we walked to the beach.  On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I walked and sat with three feet of Thay during the period of walking meditation.

After breakfast, there was always a dharma talk – a talk about the teaching of Buddha and the practical application of them in a life of engaged Buddhism.  I was familiar with about ninety per cent of what he spoke about, but the look on his face, the excitement in his voice, and the presence of his being are well worth the time spent.

Following Thay’s talk, one of the monks or nuns led us in mindful movements, which I later learned are related to qi gong.  I was especially interested in them because of my workshop plans with Gail Teehan on “Mindfulness and ART in Healing.”

The schedule called for sitting meditation after the dharma talk, but it usually changed because of an extra long talk or other events.  When I sat, I noticed that I was not obsessing about next week’s diagnostic tests – a biopsy of a mass in my thigh, and a cystoscopy.  I found myself able to maintain a degree of mindfulness that kept me pretty much in tune with the present moment.

The afternoons were filled with special interest groups, dharma discussions, and supposedly a period of sitting meditation.  I attended a special interest group on death and dying led by Joan Halifax, Ph. D.  Joan is an ordained Zen teacher in the line of Thich Nhat Hanh, Seung Sahn, and Bernie Glassman Roshi.  She is the founder of Upaya and resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The first time we met, she spoke about being with the dying person without trying to fix them.  If they were open to teachings about mindfulness, we should speak with them, otherwise, we should just be there with our mindfulness engaged in “loving speech and deep listening.”  The next morning, I had a private interview with Joan.  I wanted to discuss my practice as it related to healing the cancer that was in my body.  I could tell that she was deeply moved by my story, and she had me tell it again to a small group of her special interest group in the afternoon.

Following the special interest groups, there were dharma discussions.  The first day, we had a tea ceremony, which was lovely.  The other days, we spoke about Thay’s dharma talk, the “Five Mindfulness Trainings“, and other topics which people brought up.  I found myself speaking a lot and sharing my story with this group also.  We seemed to get very close in a matter of hours.  I expect to continue my friendship with several of the people I met in my dharma discussion group.

The schedule called for sitting meditation after the dharma discussion groups.  One afternoon, the thirty-four monks and nuns that were traveling with Thay from Plum Village were invited to demonstrate some of the chanting they do in their practice.  The chanting was so wonderful.  It seemed as if they all had wonderful voices.  Thay, himself, introduced us to many of the monks and nuns.

On that same afternoon, Nancy came to visit me.  After the chanting, we took a walk on the beach and I talked her into staying for dinner.  She did not stay for the evening program.

The evening programs were varied and wonderful.  Monday night, Thay gave an introductory dharma talk.  Tuesday night, Sister Chan Khong offered “Five Earth Touchings”.  The five earth touchings consisted of acknowledging our physical ancestry, and our spiritual ancestry, along with honoring the ancestors who made freedom possible in our corner of the world.  The final two touchings were to people we love the most and people we love the least.  I was moved to tears by most of this experience.

I spoke with Sister Chan Khong the next day before lunch about the “Five Earth Touchings”.  I also told her about my illness and how I used mindfulness as a healing tool.  She shared with me two stories about people who also used mindfulness with their illnesses.  I then told her about “healthy cells grow all by themselves,” and she said, “With your wisdom and Thay’s teachings, you are going to be fine.”

On Wednesday evening, there was a presentation of the Five Mindfulness Trainings offered by several people in the Order of Interbeing.  I found this quite helpful, as I planed to take them along with the three refuges of the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha (group of people in the practice of the dharma).  In other Buddhist traditions, the Five Mindfulness Trainings are known as the Five Precepts for lay people practicing Buddhist meditation.  I am going to try to get permission to put the text of Thay’s Five Mindfulness Trainings on this site, but for now, I’ll simply summarize the intent of each one.

  1. Respect for life – non-killing
  2. Respect for property – non-stealing
  3. Avoidance of sexual misconduct
  4. Respect for others – loving speech and deep listening – telling the truth
  5. Avoidance of intoxicants – drugs, alcohol, certain TV programs, etc.

I have been practicing most of these precepts already, and the formal presentation was quite interesting.  I took all five mindfulness trainings on Saturday morning when they were offered by Thay.

On Thursday evening, Sister Chan Khong presented the “Three Prostrations”.  These involved our relationship to time, space, and the whole stream of life.  Once again, I was deeply moved.

The last night consisted of questions from the sangha and answers from Thay.  He responded spontaneously to many wonderful questions.

The whole retreat reminded me of Thay’s description of the life of the Buddha in Old Path White Clouds. The walking meditations suggested Buddha’s travels in what is now India and Nepal.  He walked everywhere with a sangha of about 1500 bhikkhus and lay people.  The silent meals reminded me of how the bhikkhus would beg for food in the villages and towns and return to the forest to eat their meals together.


Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha
My Favorite Book

Ten Days Later

It’s been over a week since I’ve had an opportunity to write in these pages. Two weekends have gone by, and a week of hectic activity. I’ve finally become a “regular” for tennis with D. F. and E. M. on Mondays and Fridays. I’ve been a substitute for years and now I’m finally playing all the time. This changes a couple of things around for me. It means that I will have to miss Gail Teehan’s Feldenkrais lessons at D. B.’s house. It also ties up two mornings a week, but it’s what I want to do.

Last week I went to Anna Halprin‘s class on Monday, which was led by Julie. We performed a “hands” ritual, and my drawing was of hands in various positions. They were all variations of “loving hands”, even though none of the drawings had that name. They were called, “praying hands”, “begging hands”, “healing hands”, and “just hands”. The “begging hands” came from an insight I had while doing the ritual: we are all beggars, asking for just one more day on the earth, but there is no one to beg, and no one to answer. Therefore praying and begging amount to the same thing. We need to take responsibility for our own lives and allow other people to live around us.

I had a great Feldenkrais lesson with Gail on Tuesday, and a wonderful session with Leslie Davenport on Thursday.

Wednesday was quite exciting! I received calls from two publishers and met with a third. The first one wanted a copy of the complete manuscript for Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves! I have been very busy converting the web pages to a document in the format required by this publisher. This has taken all of the time I usually spend writing the web pages.

The second publisher wanted to see a business plan for the book, which contains a synopsis and Table of Contents.

The third was Burton Goldberg, publisher of Alternative Medicine Digest and co-author of  An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer. I told him my story and listened to his. Apparently, there is a lot more to the cancer cure than I or anyone one that I know is currently aware of and Goldberg’s book has many new answers. I don’t quite know where this relationship is going, but it could be very interesting. He especially likes my ideas of teaching people about cancer alternatives, through Mindfulness and ART in Healing. He thought that my idea to form a non-profit corporation to raise money to offer the workshop for free to financially handicapped patients was quite viable.


Stop Cancer In Its Tracks: Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves
Buy This Book
to learn about
Mindfulness in Healing

Mindfulness and ART in Healing

Today was one of the best days of my life! Gail Teehan and I led a two hour workshop in Leslie Davenport‘s wellness group at Marin General Hospital. The group was so pleasant and open to experiencing what we were there to give that the two hours just flew by as if they were only minutes. I took much pleasure in telling my story and leading the mindfulness meditation, and I was very impressed with Gail’s handling of the check in and Feldenkrais lesson. The feedback was phenomenal! We are ready to take this concept around to healing centers everywhere!

This is our idea: We will set up a non-profit organization so that people who want to take our workshop can do so without financial burden. We will apply for grants and accept donations from wealthy people who have been helped by our cause. We will use this money to offer scholarships to those people who can’t afford to pay for our services, and we will still draw our salaries from the corporation. The concept is still under development, and we are open to suggestions and contributions. Naturally, sales of Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves will help promote our workshop, and our workshop will help promote sales of the book. Eventually, we will publish a book together based on the workshop. All it takes is time and money!

After the workshop we had lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant and Gail gave me another one of her magnificent healing massages. Her work on my abdomen and bladder continue to inspire my complete recovery. I am very grateful for our relationship!


Stop Cancer In Its Tracks: Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves
Buy This Book
to learn about
Mindfulness in Healing

Father’s Day

Today is the last installment of Yellow Stream for the book, Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves. I think it is appropriate to end the paper version here for several reasons. First of all, I’m finally on my way to recovery from the last effects of the chemotherapy and the radiation. Secondly, the book is dedicated to my children and my spouse, and what better time to end than on Father’s Day? Thirdly, I want to share with you some of the secrets that I have learned in raising happy and independent children over the last twenty-eight years. While I still have young ones in the house (R. is fourteen and J. is twelve), my son is 28, and living a happy and independent life. And finally, I feel that my greatest accomplishment in life so far has been being a “dad” and raising such fine children. If other children were raised with the values and love that I have given to my children, things would be a lot better in the world.

So, what are my ideas about raising children? Well, one of the first things to think about is that

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows my go swift and far.Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

This quote is from Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1951. You have all probably read it before, but lost sight of the “arrow.” I have always tried to keep in mind that my children have come through me, but not from me. I have also tried to remember that they have their own thoughts and dreams, which I cannot even imagine. I have always tried to give them the space to grow into special individuals, and, as you can see from R.’s speech the other day, it seems to be working.

I also value instilling upon my children the importance of developing a love for learning, and, as a result, have invested my hard-earned money on private education for all three of them. My son went to Mt. Tam Primary School, and the Branson School, each fine independent schools in their own right, before graduating from Stanford University. R. and J. have been in Marin Horizon school since they were about two years old! This school is based on Montessori methods, and fosters individuality, along with a respect for all life forms and other people’s property. I love the education my daughters have received, and I feel that they are prepared for any eventuality.

Another area of parental concern is that of control, partly for the safety of the child, and partly for setting limits. In this area, I have always remembered what Shunryu Suzuki Roshi had to say about control in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Waterhill, New York, 1970, p 32):

“…Even though you try to put some people under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people; first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.”

I was deeply affected by this passage back in the seventies when I first read it. I remembered it and applied it to controlling my children. This way, they had a “spacious meadow” in which to explore life and learn the boundaries that were set for them in a happy and contented way.

Among the other values I try to instill in my children is the ability to make decisions for themselves. To do this, I taught them a reliable subjective basis for making moral and ethical decisions based on clear comprehension of the alternatives. Included in this reliable subjective basis was a love and respect for all life forms and respect for other people’s property, as mentioned before. As an example, when my son was eleven or twelve, he excelled in two activities that both made us proud. He was an excellent gymnast and a talented member of the San Francisco Boys Chorus. The gym was in San Rafael, and the Boys Chorus was in San Francisco, both more that ten miles in opposite directions. We sat down with him when we realized that these activities were not only stressing us out, but causing him some concern. After weighing all sides of the issues, he decided to stay with the Boys Chorus. This was a momentous decision for him, as it led him into a direction of the performing arts. For example, at the Branson school, he played Biff in West Side Story, El Gayo in The Fantastics, and was on of the founding members of the Barber Shop Quartet. At Stanford University, while he minored in music, he was a member of the Stanford Fleet Street Singers, and director for two of his four years there. Since his graduation he has played major parts in Iolanthe, La Boheme, and Naughty Marietta. He plans to move to New York in August to try to make it into the big time, all the while maintaining his skill as a computer graphic designer. You can see some of his work by browsing to his web site, and remember the he is a cancer survivor!

Well, enough of my ideas for raising children for now! What about the events and feelings of the day?

We were invited to lunch at Mikayla’s by our friend J. and R., who own the place. J.’s sister was also there with her family. She and R. both studied with Anna Halprin, so we had many interesting conversations about various topics. Besides that, the food was magnificent and we had a difficult time leaving.

My son came back to the house and we spoke for hours. It was during this time that he revealed to me his plan to give New York a try. I was totally supportive, for I believe that he is still young enough to give it his all, and he always has the fall-back position of doing computer graphics. What impact this will have on his almost seven year relationship with his girl friend, I don’t know and won’t even try to predict.


Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Another Step

Today was a little better than yesterday and the day before, but I didn’t feel well enough to go to the Center for Attitudinal Healing, as my wife did. I worked part of the day, and sent a manuscript of Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves. I think this effort was a little too much for me, so I spent the rest of the day in bed, mostly following my breathing, but I did listen to the tape of my session with Leslie Davenport from May 29 again. I still don’t know who I am or where I am going! I know that I want to spread the word about self-healing and remembered wellness as far as possible. If that’s what I’m supposed to do, so be it!

I continue my mindfulness meditation as often as possible, coupled with frequent imagery sessions about healing my bladder. I’ve stated to re-read The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by Nyanaponika Thera to support my mindfulness practice. I highly recommend it!


he Heart of Buddhist Meditation: Satipatthna: A Handbook of Mental Training Based on the Buddha's Way of Mindfulness

One Bite at a Time, One Step at a Time

The last few days have been really rough on me. The chemotherapy and radiation are really taking their toll on me in a big way. I haven’t even been able to compute these last few days!

I’ve had bladder spasms, diarrhea, and gas pains on three successive days, accompanied with tremendous exhaustion. I spend most of my days lying in bed and practicing mindfulness of breathing. I have read a little, listened to a few tapes, and watched the French Open, but most of  I just lie in bed. Breathing in, “healthy cells grow all by themselves.” Breathing out, “I’m free of cancer!”

When it comes to eating and moving, I find that I can only eat one bite at a time! When I walk, I can only take one step at a time. Of course, this is normal behavior, but in my present physical state, there seems to be an awareness at a different level of each bite, of each step.


The 10 Bulls of Zen

After the ordeal I had this week, I finally feel that the disease in under control, even though I don’t have all of my energy back. The situation reminded me of the Ten Bulls of Zen, by Kakuan, transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps, illustrated by Tomikichiro Tokuriki, HTML version by Jamie Andrews.

In these pictures, the bulls represent the eternal principle of life, that is, truth in action. Each bull represents a step in the direct experience and realization of one’s true nature. Riding the bull home, or “coming home on the Ox’s back” was traditionally the sixth bull of Zen. This is what Hakuan had to say in D. T. Suzuki’s, Manual of Zen Buddhism (Grove Press, New York, 1960, page 132):

The struggle is over; the man is no more concerned with gain and loss. He hums a rustic tune of the woodman, he sings simple songs of the village boy. Saddling himself on the ox’s back, his eyes are fixed on things not of the earth, earthy. Even if he is called, he will not turn his head; however enticed he will no more be kept back.

and the poem:

Riding on the animal, he leisurely wends his way home;
Enveloped in the evening mist, how tunefully the flute vanishes away!
Singing a ditty, beating time, his heart is filled with a joy indescribable!
That he is now one of those who know, need it be told?

I’m writing this detail to express a feeling of having tamed my disease. Not that it won’t have to be monitored from time to time, but the major danger is over, and I feel joyous!

Although the web site will continue to grow, this will be the second to last chapter in the book, Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves, as I will submit Yellow Stream for publication as of Father’s Day, June 15. I feel that this is an important time for me to release the book because my children should be quite secure that the worst part of my disease has been conquered by then, and it is a good day to celebrate! The book will conclude with a chapter that summarizes and prioritizes my healing process, and should be very interesting.


Manual of Zen Buddhism

Who Am I?

I had a session with Leslie Davenport today. I went in with an agenda, which I promptly forgot. However, after rambling on about all the good things that were happening in my life, I finally remembered that I wanted to do a guided imagery in which all of the dead cells and unwanted drugs were cleansed from my system. The session was filled with ecstatic moments, as I saw little water falls cleanse and bring energy to my eyes and flow down to my abdomen, and breathed into various places in my body. We then did a body scan, and when we got to my bladder, she used my saying of “healthy cells grow all by themselves!” This, of course, triggered other ecstatic moments, and I channeled the wonderful energy right into my bladder. Then we went deeper into the process of going inward, and she suddenly came up with the question, “Who are you, Jerome?” I had an immediate flash of blue light come in through my belly center and could only answer, “When Bhodidharma was asked that question by King Wu, he said, ‘I don’t know,’ and went off to meditate in a cave for nine years! So I don’t know!” We back into the guided imagery and a short while later she repeated the question. This time, my answer was the same, and I really got a kick out of it as if it were the real answer to the question. I felt like I had solved the koan quit well! The session ended soon after that, and I wanted to spend some more quality time with Leslie.

Later in the evening I went my Evolutionary Circle group. I spent a good deal of time explaining my physical condition, and everyone was thrilled. Then I began speaking about my spiritual state and invited them to follow the mindfulness path that I have been taking as an exercise. Everyone was enthusiastic about doing this, and the exercise lasted about twenty minutes.

I brought everyone into the breath in the belly by having them take several deep breaths, and then bringing their focus the to rising and falling of the breath in their bellies. I instructed them to repeat to themselves mentally, “healthy” with each inhalation, and to repeat “free” with each exhalation. At this point I let them get adjusted to what was going on internally with them before dealing with other objects of the mind. I then asked the to allow a physical sensation arise in their bodies and experience just what happens to their belly practice when the get lost in the effects of the body. After bringing them back to the belly breath, I instructed them on experiencing an emotion, so that they could experience what it was like to have some feelings while they were focusing on their breath in their bellies. I explained that energy follows attention and that if the emotion was strong enough, the breath observation practice would cease and they would get caught up in their feelings. I brought them back to the belly breath and guided them through the mental objects of thoughts, memories, plans, and images in the same way I had done the feelings, each time expressing the fact that the belly practice would dissipate if the energy in the though, memory, plan, or image was strong enough to move their energy. Then I had them return the breath in the belly for a few moments of silence, just so they could experience whatever came into their consciousness.

Finally, I brought them back into the room and had everyone share their individual experiences. The experiment was a tremendous success and provided a setting for the rest of the group to check in. I told many other stories of my spiritual experiences since our last meeting, and felt tremendous love and support from the whole group. They are so happy that I am doing so well!