Could you be inspired by the story of a seven year old child who was stricken with a usually fatal kidney cancer (Wilm’s tumor) in 1976 and is still thriving today? If so, please view two episodes of In Search Of on YouTube, from 1976 and 1980:
This child is my son, Micah!
The same day that I found out that Micah had cancer, I started working with him using a form of mindfulness practice which was later dubbed, “Mind Stories”. I trained Micah at the age of seven to create mind stories about his cancer using guided imagery and creative visualization techniques. How I learned these is the subject of another article in this series (link to be provided).
After more than four weeks in the hospital, which followed a complete resection of the infected kidney, Micah was brought home. It was at that time we hired Dr. Sheldon Ruderman to be his therapist and continue working on mind stories.
You’ll be happy to know that beyond all expectations of the attending physicians, Micah is still alive today and thrives in Fairfax, California with a new born daughter. We see him often and every time I see him I recognize the miracle of his healing and the miracle of mindfulness.
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Breathing in, breathing out,
Healthy cells grow all by themselves.
I am free of cancer!
This 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.
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.
 Interactive Guided Imagerysm is a service mark of The Academy for Guided Imagery, Mill Valley, CA.
I woke up this morning feeling a lot better than yesterday. I had spent much of the night doing mind stories and metta meditation. The metta meditation is a loving kindness meditation from the Buddhist tradition. I’ve adopted mine from several sources and it goes like this:
First you shower yourself with loving kindness by saying to yourself with feeling:
May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I know the beauty and the radiance of my own Buddha-nature.
May I be healed.
May I be happy, truly happy!
May I not cause anyone to suffer.
Then you shower the loving kindness blessings on someone you love, substituting “you” for “I” in the above rendition. You then shower loving kindness blessings on someone you are having a problem with and follow with showering loving kindness blessings on the whole world, imagining the earth floating in the vast emptiness of space. I practiced this meditation for several hours and woke up feeling fine! It was really important to shower the loving kindness blessings on myself first, so I could feel good enough about myself to shower the blessings on my spouse and other people I love in my life.
In the afternoon, I went to a meeting of Voices of Healing in Mill Valley. It turned out to be a support group much like the life threatened group at the Center for Attitudinal Healing. I was touched by people’s healing stories.
After the meeting, I received a massage from Pauline from Anna Halprin‘s group, and I’ve added her name to the resources list. Pauline is also living with cancer and continues to study with Gabrielle Roth. She was gentle and prayerful as she gave me an Eselan massage. The massage was excellent, and the mood was enhanced by the Tibetan music in the background.
From there I went to a session with Leslie Davenport. I needed to see her again this week because I felt in crisis with the thought of resuming my life as it was prior to the cancer. I felt and still feel that if I allow those conditions to be re-established, I’d be really susceptible to a recurrence of my disease, and this made me panic. There were other issues that came up, especially how much love if flowing into my life from many sources, but I was in the middle of a severe doubt attack.
Today I was feeling well enough to have lunch at Kitty’s Place with my wife and J. C. We had a lovely lunch, and I felt good to be out. I then got a hair cut for my daughter’s graduation on Friday. Now I’m ready for another rest! This has been a really difficult time for me, but I try to keep it together with mindfulness meditation and “mind stories.”
When I was a boy of around twelve or thirteen, I studied and played the game of chess. I studied the masters like Lasker, Reinfeld, Alekhine, Botvinnik and Capablanca. In fact, when Reshevsky played a simultaneous exhibition at Purdue University in 1959, I played him to a tie by playing the Lasker variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. My favorite master was Aaron Nimzovich, who published My System in 1925. This was my favorite book on the subject and I studied it long and hard. One of the strategies that Nimzovich taught was called overprotection. He maintained that if you have a pawn in a strong position, especially in the center of the board, you should do everything in your power to overprotect that pawn, which, in turn would lead to a very strong position. Overprotection became my primary strategy in chess, and perhaps in life.
Overprotection is a good strategy for raising children if you consider expressing your love and affection for them consistently throughout their childhood. I’m not talking about protecting them from the outside world so much as assuring them that they are loved and cared for in a way in which they feel secure and protected. My girls and boy have been raised this way and are wonderful people.
I think that overprotection is a good strategy for healing from cancer also. What I mean here is that the more you can do for yourself, the better. For me, this means being a support group junkie, doing “mind stories,” having guided imagery sessions, doing Feldenkrais and other massage therapies, acupuncture, and all of the other activities I’m engaged in to support and overprotect my health.
I came to this realization early this morning after a very difficult night of little sleep. I was looking deeply into my feelings and remembered how I played chess and bridge as a youngster.
I studied the game so much so that I could feel like a winner. I had felt like such a looser as a child that I needed something to win at and I chose chess. Almost every time I played a good game with a good player with a chance to win, I would get heart palpitations and start to shake. I would get very nervous and feel compelled to win. I needed to win at something. This attitude and nervousness carried over into my college days at Purdue University to the game of bridge. I quickly became one of the best bridge players on campus, but winning was still an issue. When Mike Sears and I entered a tournament in Terra Haute, Indiana, I was nervous and shaking as usual, and we did not win. Mike was very disappointed in me. However, when Charles Goren visited Pudure, I was his partner in a tournament and we won.
Now my life is on the line and I’m playing for keeps. I get the same heart palpitations and shaking when I think of the possibility of actually helping someone with my ideas and guidance. I get nervous when I think about publishing this web site as a book and actually speaking to people about how they can learn to make appropriate decisions for their medical treatment. Now that the word is out, I may be able to control my nervousness and shaking enough to heal myself and realize my goal to deliver this message far and wide. This is serious stuff, and I am committed to getting well again. My girls are still young enough that they need overprotection – overprotection in the sense of feeling loved and protected.
I went into the hospital early this morning to have another TURBT procedure done by Dr. Neuwirth. I was taken into the operating room about 75 minutes early, along with Dr. Rossman’s pre surgery tape! This time, I was not given the opportunity to have an epidural. Instead, I had a general anesthetic. Luckily, I did not experience any side effects from the anesthetic.
My recovery was a little uncomfortable this time, probably because of the catheter, but maybe from the anesthetic. I was rolled up into my room about noon time and immediately started drinking. I wanted to flush out the disease from my bladder as soon as possible. In between visitors, I spent the afternoon comfortably doing “mind stories“, listening to tapes by Dr. Keith Block and Dr. Carl Simonton, and reading Love, Medicine and Miracles. Later that evening, E. M. and D. F., two of my favorite tennis partners, came by. It was so nice to speak with them about how I use tennis as a spiritual practice and introduces them to visualization and guided imagery.
My wife is very clever! She talked Dr. Neuwirth into letting me spend the night in the hospital, which is not normally done after a TURBT. I was grateful for the overnight stay because I don’t have to deal with a catheter until Tuesday.
Up until now, I have been reporting on external events and meetings with physicians. It has certainly been a whirlwind of activity for the last two weeks, but I haven’t mentioned too much of what is going on inside. Believe me, a lot is taking place and has transpired. I have continued to do “mind stories” daily, sometimes three or more times a day, especially when I feel tired. While the method I use to invoke the relaxed state of mind that I need to do my meditation is described elsewhere, the content of my meditation is made up of at least three kinds of processes.
The first process I use is based on Buddhist meditation. Having been trained in both Zen and Vipassana, I use a hybrid method that incorporates the best of both for my purposes. The method involves following the breath in the belly, which is a common practice in both Zen and Vipassana, with a healing twist. What I used to do prior to my diagnosis was “breathing in … breathing out” – following the physical movement of my abdomen. The modification I make, based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, along with bringing my attention a little lower to my bladder, I generally repeat, “Breathing in, I know that I am healing myself, … breathing out, the cancer is gone!” Much of the time, when the breath is fairly short, for example, I use the trigger words, “healing” for the in breath and “gone” for the out breath, knowing that I am referring to the elimination of the cancer cells.
The second method is to visualize the insides of my bladder, and visualize that I am scraping off the cancer cells into the bladder, to be easily eliminated through normal bladder function. This is a quite effective technique, as sometimes I really feel the cells dying and being eliminated. This process takes a good deal of concentration to be effective, but many years of visualization practice have helped in this area.
The third method is to visualize events in my future with a positive regard. For example, I see myself playing tennis in Sausalito, Edgewood Park and Boyle Park, with my different tennis buddies. Or, I might see myself lying on China Beach in Point Lobos State Reserve, and listening to the waves crash against the shore. I can smell the sea air and virtually taste the salt water. I feel the texture of the sand on my feet, legs, buttocks, hands, and arms. Or, I might visualize R.’s graduation coming up in June or a trip to Hawaii, or whatever my mind brings up. I’m not focusing on my disease at all, as these events take me beyond recovery.
Anna’s group consisted of mostly women who had already recovered from cancer. There were several ladies who were in the throes of treatment, but they were in the minority. Anna began by allowing my friend J. M. (the same friend who took me to lunch after “yellow stream”) to tell his story of three and one half years of prostate cancer which is no in total remission. Everyone was encouraged by his story.
She proceeded to direct us to get grounded in our chairs and begin breathing in and out. Naturally, my Buddhist practice came to mind and I was in a rhythm of “healing… gone.” We then started moving in time with our breath, expanding way out with our arms open wide on the in breath and contracting inward on the out breath. This theme was developed to standing, bending, and movement around the room to Native American music of some kind. We eventually had some group interaction through the movement and all along Anna kept us focused on our breath. She would have us focus on being grounded, relaxed, aware, centered energy (grace).
After the period of movement, we were to draw a picture inspired by the movement. This was a difficult task for me, for I have never enjoyed drawing too much. With her inspiration and support, I drew the “yellow stream.”