Cancer. Often referred to as The Big C.
The word carries a unique energy as well as the implication that is terrifying.
As the number of lives affected by cancer increases around the globe every year, it is hard to find someone in our circle of family, friends and colleagues whose lives have not been touched in some way.
Statistics released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012. The same report revealed that some 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and that number is expected to rise by about 70 per cent over the next two decades. The statistic that stood out for me was that more people die from cancer-related causes than are healed.
Fortunately, many lives affected by cancer are being saved as medical science makes great advances in this field. However, mainstream medicine tends to rely mainly on such practices as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The WHO is urging the medical profession to accept that solutions for preventing cancer must be found as a matter of urgency.
Five Leading Cancer Risks
The WHO report states that about 30 per cent of cancer deaths are due to five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use.
Tobacco is the most important risk factor for cancer, causing over 20 per cent of cancer deaths overall and about 70 per cent of deaths from lung cancer. Other leading causes of deaths are liver, stomach, colorectal, breast and oesophageal cancers, accounting for another third of all cancer deaths. It is not surprising that WHO is asking for urgent preventive solutions.
Many of us don’t realise it but, as the WHO report states, ‘cancer arises from one single cell. The transformation from a normal cell into a tumor cell is a multistage process, typically a progression from a pre-cancerous lesion to malignant tumors.’
One cell, one rogue cell, can change your life forever. It seems hard to believe.
Alternative Treatments For Cancer?
There are many claims of alternative treatments for cancer. They are usually dismissed out of hand by most mainstream medical authorities, who traditionally advocate scientific and pharmaceutical treatments. This is not surprising as the cancer industry in the United States alone is estimated to be worth over $200 billion a year. Many sceptics believe that those in positions of power are not interested in delivering a cure as it would be financially disastrous for the cancer industry.
Unfortunately it is hard to know just how effective alternative treatments are, as this information is not readily available, apart from isolated claims and some anecdotal reports on the internet. The medical establishment tends to dismiss complementary or alternative treatments out of hand, unless combined with conventional practices.
However, detailed information about the long-term effects of mainstream treatments is also very hazy. A patient is regarded as being in remission if there is no trace of cancer after a period of five years following treatment. If the cancer returns after that, it is apparently treated as a whole new ball game, which sounds very convenient.
The Creepy Crab of Cancer
The Oxford Dictionary defines cancer as ‘from (the) Latin, “crab or creeping ulcer”, translating Greek karkinos, said to have been applied to such tumors because the swollen veins around them resembled the limbs of a crab.’ If my story helps just one person cope emotionally with this pervasive form of disease, then writing this book (The Joy of LIVING: Postponing the Afterlife) will have been worthwhile.
Looking back on the more than seventy years of my life, I have come to the firm conclusion that everything happens for a reason. We may not consciously choose to create problems, but I believe that we subconsciously create, attract or accept everything in our daily lives. Understanding and dealing with these events — good, bad and indifferent — and the wide range of people we encounter along the way, is an integral part of why we are here in the first place.
Life is about having a multitude of positive and challenging human experiences and how we react to them physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have found that accepting responsibility for my thoughts, beliefs and actions is the most positive starting point in coping with life’s ups and downs.
Dealing with the Aftermath of Fear
Over the years I have come to accept that it is all too easy to just go to a doctor and rely on a pharmaceutical prescription to solve my problems. The range of drugs, particularly for mental and emotional conditions, that some people end up swallowing daily is frightening. The side effects can be horrendous.
Years ago I made a conscious decision to explore as many options as possible and not just rely on the pharmaceutical industry — or Big Pharma as it has become known — for a convenient answer to health problems. This has led me to explore the world of holistic or complementary medicine and I have found many solutions that have worked for me. Now I only take drugs, including painkillers, when it is absolutely imperative.
So when I was diagnosed with a cancerous growth in the throat in early 2013, I was faced with a dilemma. I thought, as a researcher and believer in natural and holistic healing modalities, do I dig my heels in against traditional medical practices as a matter of principle?
Inevitably, the initial response to being diagnosed with any form of cancer is to retreat into fear mode. I was no different to anyone else in this regard. However, several years ago I discovered a useful acronym for FEAR — False Evidence Appearing Real —and digging deep I have usually been able to work with this demon whenever it crops up.
The vast majority of my past worries were false alarms, which soon dissipated when facts emerged or conditions changed. Indeed, for most of us, it’s often difficult to remember what we were worried about even a few months later, as life moves on so fast. One set of worries usually dissolves into the next.
Having thoroughly researched the whole area of death in the course of writing two books on the afterlife, I felt no immediate fear of this when medical scans confirmed the existence of my cancer. But I did have to cope with other fears about the treatment process I was required to undergo in order to at least postpone my return to the afterlife. The way I was able to conquer these fears and emerge relatively unscathed from my intense treatments is the important part of my story. It was a journey in which I needed to be willing and able to accept the role that I had to play in the treatment and healing processes.
Choices, and More Choices
For many years, whenever the subject of cancer came up I had firmly stated that I would never undergo chemotherapy whatever the circumstances. So as far as I was concerned chemotherapy was off the table from day one.
However surgery was the first hurdle I had to face, and with a 2.5 centimeter growth in the base of my throat that felt like it was swelling daily, this decision did not require a lot of deliberation. At the time I thought to myself, if the damned thing keeps getting bigger I’ll end up choking to death.
But I had no idea what would happen after the initial surgery, as my mind just kept spinning and rejecting any long-term planning. Because I have a media background and am used to delving deep into a subject, I decided to do my own research before making any final decision.
My first port of call was Cancer Council NSW, where the staff were most understanding and helpful. Then I researched all the potential alternative and complementary medicine practices I could find that related to my condition. My final and most important move was to do my inner exploration, as I rely very much on my intuition and inner wisdom in my daily life.
After a great deal of soul-searching and spiritual guidance, I eventually clambered down off my high perch and decided the best and most positive way forward was to combine my alternative and spiritual beliefs and practices with mainstream medicine. In recent years I had come to accept that creating balance in all things is more often than not a key factor in helping cope with the vicissitudes of life.
When I told my family of my decision, they admitted that they were relieved and very surprised, having believed that I would stubbornly refuse the conservative advice of my doctors. I didn’t realise how much of a medical rebel they regarded me.
Family and Friends
One very important influence in my battle with cancer has been the role that family and friends played. The love and support I received during these often long and exhausting months played a vital part in being able to handle the emotional and physical roller coaster I found myself riding.
My partner Anne has been an integral part of the successful outcome. It is only now, three years after my treatment finished, that I can fully appreciate and understand the burden that supporting me had dumped on her shoulders. At the time I had no idea what she was going through, a message that I would like other cancer patients to take into consideration.
Anne’s story has made me realise with the benefit of twenty/twenty hindsight that, yes, it’s a tough time going through the cancer experience, but I was not the only one who was suffering.
A Positive Mindset
Looking back on the whole sequence of events, I now realise more than ever the importance of having a positive mindset. When I told my daughter about my intention of writing this book, she enthusiastically encouraged me and reminded me that she had based her psychology PhD thesis on the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion developed by the American psychologist Barbara Frederickson.
According to Wikipedia, Professor Frederickson’s theory is based on the idea ‘that emotions prepare the body both physically and psychologically to act in particular ways. For example, anger creates the urge to attack, fear causes an urge to escape and disgust leads to the urge to expel.’
On the other hand, the theory implies that ‘positive emotions have inherent value to human growth and development and cultivation of these emotions will help people lead fuller lives.’ Barbara Fredrickson expanded her theory in a paper she wrote with Thomas Joiner entitled ‘Positive Emotions Trigger Upward Spirals toward Emotional Well-Being’.
The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions predicts that positive emotions broaden the scopes of attention and cognition, and, by consequence, initiate upward spirals toward increasing emotional well-being.
... If positive emotions broaden attention and cognition, enabling flexible and creative thinking, they should also facilitate coping with stress and adversity ...
... One way people experience positive emotions in the face of adversity is by finding positive meaning in ordinary events and within the adversity itself.
As I started my daunting journey, I was determined that my next book would not be written from the afterlife, the subject of my previous books.
©2017 by Barry Eaton. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Rockpool Publishing.
The Joy of Living: Postponing the Afterlife
by Barry Eaton and Anne Morjanoff.
The Joy of Living gives us heart-warming, fascinating and deep insights on the hard road from diagnosis to treatment and eventual survival from throat cancer. Dealing with customary fears surrounding cancer, Barry’s story unfolds with insights from his partner Anne and son Matthew, as they support him through his emotional roller-coaster journey.
About the Authors
Barry Eaton is well known in his native Australia both as a mainstream journalist and broadcaster, and for his Internet radio show RadioOutThere.com. He is a qualified astrologer, medium, and psychic intuitive and the author of “Afterlife – Uncovering the Secrets of Life After Death” and “No Goodbyes – Life Changing Insights From the Other Side” . He gives regular talks and lectures, as well as one-on-one sessions as a psychic intuitive. For more information, visit Barry at http://radiooutthere.com/blog/the-joy-of-living/ and www.barryeaton.com
Anne Morjanoff had a 15-year career in Sydney’s central bank, beginning in communications and moving to the human resources department. Anne developed a passion for number symbolism, using it to re-assure many people of their life conditions and conducting workshops on the power of numbers in everyday life. She now works in the education arena in a casual administrative role.