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Sharing time : psychological factors for cancer ? Cures ?

cat1switzerland
Posts: 119
Joined: May 2001

Hi everyone !

I hope you are all well ! Here in Switzerland it is sunny (at last !). I wanted to share something I've read with you. It seems in Quebec there is a school of psychologists and doctors who are studying the MEANING of illnesses. The concept behind this is that our brain reacts to a psychological threat, real or imagined, the same way it would react to a physical threat. Our brain also has an intelligence of its own : it controls our whole body, and will put it deliberately at risk if it evaluates that this risk is less of an immediate threat that the psychological risk it is under at the time.
There is a book in English if you are interested in this subject :
"Listen to Your Body, Your Best Friend on Earth", by Lise Bourbeau. You can see a quick review on Amazon. Most books I have read on the subject have not been translated yet in English. Michel Odoul, for instance, wrote something I found so interesting I tried to translate it to share it with you (the mistakes are therefore mine):

"The psychological situation that precedes cancer is often the following :
the person is affected by an emotional traumatism. Through strength, will power, education or belief, the person doesn't let her pain be expressed, or doesn't recognize it, and especially the loss of reference points, the deep destruction of beliefs or illusions that this pain represents. The traumatism is felt unconsciously as an intrusion in her internal structures, and its shock wave will slowly colonize all the psychological construction of the person. The internal balance of the person will then slowly lose all its reference points, and become chaotic and suicidal for the being's structure (on the contrary of an "allergic" process, which explains why few allergic people ever develop a cancer). (...) Cancer, therefore, represents the destruction of internal equilibrium programmation, and expresses itself particularly through the first touched area. It often expresses remorse, wounds that we cannot or will not heal and that are often associated with a guilt feeling. It is a kind of self punishment, an unconscious acknowledgement of failure towards one's life or one's choices of life. What did I miss, what am I punishing myself for, what am I blaming myself for so deeply? This is at any rate the last scream of the Internal Master because all the others have failed or have been smothered. "

If I analyse what went on for me, for the past several years, I was under a huge stress : job, family, finances... Nothing much I could do about it. After a while I got sick : didn't stop working though. Then I got a different and more serious sickness : I went back to work almost immediately, didn't listen to my body. Guess what, this is about the time my tumour started : my brain had tried to send me messages : "stop, there is too much pressure, I can't handle it anymore." Seeing I didn't listen to the messages, it finally FORCED me to stop. Cancer. No fooling around anymore, you listen or else... And I was relieved to learn I had cancer. I am serious. Because all these years, my stress had remained high.

This is why I want to change my lifestyle in such a big way that my brain won't feel threatened anymore. Two other books are my companions is that quest : "Simple abundance", by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and "Clear your clutter with Feng Shui", by Karen Kingston.

I would love to have your thoughts on this.

With a big hug,
Cathy

jeancmici
Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

Cathy,

I think it is rubbish. The last couple of years for me have been very happy - retired, studying French, having two wonderful experiences going to France, making new friends - actual on my homeground and also on the internet on a French language website. I was happily planning a longer trip to France this April/May ( now past) and had been taking two classes a week last autumn instead of one because my comprehension is so poor.

Except that I didn't get enough sleep - but I've been sleep-deprived all my life - I do not see the connection. Of course, it makes for an interesting book and a means of income for the authors - and a topic of conversation, but I doubt that I would have had cancer if I had not taken estrogen replacement for 9 1/2 years. And I had too many mammograms at a younger age when the machines gave more radiation and too few in the last few years when it was more important for me to have caught this sooner.

Hope I have not hurt your feelings, but you asked for opinions - malheureusement, j'ai toujours une opinion!

Hugs to you too, Jean

cat1switzerland
Posts: 119
Joined: May 2001

Jean,

I love your honesty, as always ! I had also been taking the pill for years, often forgetting it and taking two at a time the next day. Pretty dumb, I now realize ! So I agree that my level of hormones may also have been a problem. However, what my doctor told me is that most tumours are already 3 to 4 years old before they get detected by a mammogram. (It depends on the type of cancer, this may have been for the type I had). You were leading a happy life these past two years, if you also had a happy life the past 5 years then you do have a point. And at any rate I don't think psychological factors could explain everything, for everyone. The use I find in that theory is that it prompts me to ask myself questions.

With a second big hug,
Cathy

bdean
Posts: 262
Joined: Feb 2001

Dear Cathy & Jean:
I think you both have a point. I strongly believe in the saying 'mind over matter'--which I translate as positive thinking can overcome so much the doctors cannot explain--or negative thinking (pessimistic attitudes) can have a detrimental effect on the body. I grew up with the worse pessimist I have ever known and loved so dearly, my Mother. I cannot believe my sister and I are both such positive people--thankfully on that score, we took after our Dad--very easy going and laid back. My Mom has been saying she was dying for as long as I can remember. She will be 80 in December!! I have been doing a lot of research on hypochondriasis because of illnesses suffered by a dear friend. I hate to say it; but she is almost textbook for feeding her own symptoms. When she wants to do something, she gets stronger; then slumps right back in her illness. After years of watching and listening to her, I finally had to admit just to myself, that she is her own worse enemy! I guess the same could apply to any disease--whatever is in the subconscious can be manifested in many ways. The mind fascinates me; and I have heard we only use about a tenth of its capabilities.
Jean, I read a most interesting article on early x-rays (50s & 60s). The study followed women who had had multiply chest or back x-rays in their early teens; and found the percentage with breast cancer in their 40s and 50s much much higher. I fractured my spine at age 13 in auto accident and had many x-rays in 1958 in a 9 month period! I also took birth control pills the decade of the 60s. Then I was on hormone replacement therapy for about six months before I found this tumor. Who knows? Because, the trauma my family went through in 1989 with the loss of our son--could easily be a contributing factor. I have never felt complete since--too much heartbreak. I guess I didn't have a chance of not developing cancer. But like you said Cathy, maybe the cancer woke me up to the needs of the rest of my family; I am improving from this aggressive type I have; when the oncologist didn't think I would see another 6 months. Maybe I have forgiven myself for whatever fault I may have laid on myself. There was not a thing I could have done to prevent his accident; except I gave him permission to go visit his friend. I have carried a ton of burdens since then; never feel safe or that it might happen again. You can't help it--grief is overwhelming to say the least.
Well, maybe no one will read this self analysis--I have rambled too long. But thank you CAthy for helping me to apply this logic to myself.
Have a great day and may God bless you all. With love and hugs, Brenda

jeancmici
Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

Dear Brenda,

As usual you have written a very moving and uplighting message. I think perhaps I put down some of the ideas Cathy got from her book because I've often said - even before I had cancer - that before long with the advice constantly of eat right, exercise, sleep, relax etc etc that we will all have to feel guilty about dying - when eventually it's inevitable!

Someone along this line in the health field said this guilt trip is wrong because some of the most positive and bravest people just do not make it and it's not their fault.

1989 - also one of the saddest years of my life because my 87 year old mother suddenly showed definite signs of Alzheimer's. There may have been more subtle signs that I overlooked attributing them to age, but nothing obvious.

That was a long STRESSFUL downhill misery for 7 1/2 years until she died in '96 at age 94. That was the last year I had a mammogram until Dec 2000 after I felt a lump. Cancer just went on the back burner - nothing else seemed as bad to me - and you know, I have not changed my mind.

You and Cathy and Tiger and Nancy and so many others here just help so much in our struggles with cancer and all that goes with it. I read your web page tonight. It is wonderful!

Love, Jean

cat1switzerland
Posts: 119
Joined: May 2001

Dear Brenda,

Thank you for sharing your "self analysis" with us. You've gone through the worst nightmare any parent could have. I have an 8-year old daughter, I understand the grief you must have gone through. With all my positive attitude, I would also just fall into pieces if that ever happened. I love you, Brenda ! I hope you find the way to enjoy your treasures around you : your family, your friends...

I was partly raised by my grandma when I was very little , until my Mom stopped working. My grandma remained the central point in my life, I loved her so much ! More than my parents or my sister even. Then when I was 9-years old I learned she had cancer. I watched her fight and eventually die 4 years later. My world crumbled apart. Years later, I realized that if it hadn't been for losing my grandma, I may not have opened my heart to the rest of my family. I discovered I had another grandma, quite different (French and Latin teacher, took no BS from anyone, rough but a huge heart). I developped other meaningful relationships. I still miss my grandma (both of them, now, actually). She will always be with me. I KNOW I will see her again . I am not a church goer : I believe in God, but I can also cuss Him out when I feel He's sitting on his Butt being Lazy...All that to say that no matter what, I know I will be with my grandma someday. And at the beginning of my cancer, the temptation was incredibly strong to let go, not fight, and be with her. Then my parents, my sister, my aunt and uncle came to visit me. And of course my wonderful husband and daughter were always there for me, and friends came too... I realized I had always had that wonderful love, from all of them. I just didn't see it before. Life was before mostly a big list of responsibilities for me. Now I let it overflow with love, and I allow myself to take time for myself. I never pampered myself before. I bought a CD of guided meditations, lit a few candles in my bedroom yesterday evening. Bob and Audrey were playing in the den. I fell asleep after 10-15 minutes, it felt so good... Just me and myself...

Ok, now you won't feel bad for rambling, because I sure did more than you!
You are wonderful, and thank you again for sharing and caring enough to respond to me. This is important for me right now, to figure out potential causes, and I have the feeling there should be a massive survey of all of us on the site to try to figure if there are some factors emerging : pill, X-rays, psychological traumas... I would like so much that what we are going through could help others !

With love and hugs,
Cathy

sharon_buck
Posts: 64
Joined: May 2001

Ladies I'am also new and try to add sometimes but, read daily all there is to offer! we all have a battle to fight but, knowing so many fight to survive and give us so much to think about and to be grateful for each day is God's help to all. thank's for the input's tonight. Sharon

debw
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2000

I think that stress puts our body in distress and thus lowers our immune system. This allows the toxins or what ever causes cancer to get a foot hold. The stress can come from physical or emotional sources. That's my 2 cents. Debw

hollykiona
Posts: 16
Joined: May 2001

I, too, believe there's a link between unreconciled emotional 'hurts' and sickness. Emotional pain and traumatic events that you never fully dealt with start to eat you up and eventually (I think) manifests itself into a sickness or something else that forces you to make your peace with it. I'm with you, Cathy, about how significant it is to change your lifestyle and take care of your mind and spirit along with your body. I came to the decision a couple of weeks ago that I won't be able to TRULY get well unless I take care of all those elements.

Thanks for posting such a though provoking message.

Holly

gayj
Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2001

Hi everyone - As a social worker and psychotherapist of 30 years I have worked with thousands of people who have had tons more stress and trauma in their lives than I have had who did not develop cancer, so I cannot subscribe to the idea of stress or emotional trauma being the cause of cancer (although I think it's a proven fact that stress and/or depression does suppress the immune system). My life has been full of love, joy and purpose, and yes there has been stress and sadness at times, but I do not believe my stress has been extraordinary. All the reading I have been doing has led me to the conclusion that there are probably multiple causative factors and that the cause is still not really understood.
Probably like all of us I have asked myself, "why has this happened to me?" but I've decided that search is fruitless and possibly guilt-inducing which I don't need. I've decided the more therapeutic question for me to focus on is "what is really important to me in life and what are the time-wasters and rabbit trails that I can eliminate from my life?" I know that guilt, fear, long to-do lists and hurry are my big time-wasters which I am working to eliminate.
I do wonder about the role of HRT in causing breast cancer (I was on it over 15 years) although all the breast cancer specialists insist it doesn't cause cancer. I've been reading about the possible role of estradiol, one of the estrogens in HRT, as a carcinogen. I hope we learn more about this soon so that our sisters and daughters have more complete information than we did about the long-term risks as well as benefits of HRT. Warmly - Gay

jeancmici
Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

Hi Gay,

As you probably read, I think HRT had a lot to do with mine - 9 1/2 years. Lately - and esp. too late for you and me - the message has been that up to five years of HRT is not a risk but increases after that and the combination with progestin is more of a risk.

I took only estrogen ( had a hysterectomy in my 40's with one ovary remaining) beginning at almost 55 years of age - and past hot flashes - but my primary care physician - a woman and my new doctor at this time- recommended it for my bones - and I have osteoporosis anyway!! :-(

I had intended with my very next refill to switch to .3 mg since I had been on .625 - the standard- and now read in an interview with a gynecologist on Dr. Love's website that 'THEY'think that the NEW .15mg ( I was not even aware of this strength ) is probably all postmenopausal women would need for quality of life.

If I may ask- did you take the combination -estrogen and progestin - my cousin did for 15 years and got cancer too.

In fact I know of many women who followed this pattern - I used to just disregard this info I guess and say - well, not me!

Live and learn! Best regards, Jean

gayj
Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2001

Dear Jean - Yes, I was on Prempro, the .625 premarin and I believe .25 progestorone. I have been asking my doctor for the last several years if it was safe for me to be on it as long as I had been and he quoted me all the studies he had read about and conferences he'd attended that reinforced the safety of HRT in combination. Being a busy professional I didn't do my own research and just trusted his research. Since I was diagnosed I too read about the 5 year recommended limit (I've read so much, I can't remember where I read that; do you?) and I have been telling everyone I know who is on HRT. I can't really fault the medical profession; I believe they're doing the best they can with mountains and mountains of data, much of it conflicting and misleading and some of it erroneous. I am rapidly becoming a skeptic about all claims, especially if it seems too good to be true! Warmly - Gay

jeancmici
Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

Dear Gay,

Thanks for your reply. I've read the 5 year recommendation EVERYWHERE now!!

As you said, it is pointless to try to pinpoint the cause - it's probably multiple causes with the just-right combination to trigger the cancer - and doctors are only guessing and hoping when they treat us that they will be successful.

My sympathy is especially with so many young women now who find they have cancer before even the recommended age for mammograms.

I also have read that there is the real possibility that for some people who begin yearly mammograms at 40, repeated radiation plus other radiation we get could cause a cancer - for example in one's 60's.

As many of our network members have said - it is important to enjoy each day that you have. It's ironic but at my age of 63, I had already come to that conclusion before I found my lump.

I was in my 50's before I realized how much work is involved in living a worthwhile life instead of willy-nilly coasting.

Best wishes, Jean

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