Some years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and had to go
in for emergency surgery. The cancer was happily not of a fatal
nature and, despite an operation that unexpectedly took her to
then point of death, she survived and recovered fully.
However, this situation brought to light matters that you need to
consider carefully. You see, prior to this revelation, nobody
in our family had ever suffered from cancer before. Indeed, we
had come to think of ourselves as “immune”; a problem that
affects other people, but will never touch us. Now we know
Perhaps you have considered yourself similarly immune to
life-threatening illnesses like this? Or perhaps you know all too
well the dangers from having suffered a personal loss, or
experienced the trauma of drastic surgery?
I am not a medical doctor and therefore I cannot give you medical
advice. However, I can tell you some of the trains of thought
that ran through out minds at the time, and discuss with you some
of the things we wish we had done better.
In a situation like this, it seems to be important to get as many
of the facts as possible, and retain control of the situation as
best you can. It is all too easy to let the doctors and nurses
take control, take whatever drugs they tell you to, and generally
delegate total responsibility for your body to them. That is
unwise. You need to have as much information as possible, before
permitting all kinds of drastic measures to be taken on your
behalf. Sometimes the cure is worse than the illness.
Your body is ultimately your responsibility. Whether you do
everything or nothing that the doctors advise is a decision for
YOU to make. After all, it is you who have to live with the
consequences for the rest of your life. Too many people defer to
“experts”. However, these experts have a lot of people to deal
with, often cannot give enough of the individual attention
required, and by necessity must shortcut the patient life
history process, and even the diagnosis and therapy
procedures in order to make any progress against the countless
numbers needing help.
Practically speaking, this means it is wise to get a second
opinion, especially in the case of a major diagnosis like cancer.
If you need to spend time in a hospital, you should find one that
is VERY GOOD or EXCELLENT. They are NOT all the same! The
treatment you get by the staff in one hospital can be the polar
opposite of that in another. That is what happened to my relative
in the last week. Taking time to find out the difference can have
a big effect; even life or death eventually.
Have you heard that “prevention is better than cure”? How very
true. We now find ourselves reviewing the way we have lived our
lives and asking if things could have been done better. Diet is a
classic example of something most people could do better.
Moreover, it is an area that modern medical science spends almost
no time on, and consequently knows little about.
Much of the time, we eat and drink as we wish and do not give a
second thought to the consequences. You hear something is not
good for you, but you don’t take it too seriously. When you are
young, you believe you can live forever. Not true. Moreover,
what you do throughout your life adds to the total score, in terms of
acquiring a crisis illness like cancer or heart disease.
There exists a vast range of useful knowledge about healthy diet
and living, about exercise and relaxation. Why not pay serious
attention to it NOW, instead of waiting until you have the fear
of God kicked into you? It’s not about becoming a “health freak”.
It’s just about taking sensible measures to become AWARE of what
you are doing to yourself. Get the owner’s manual for your
body/mind and read it. At least then you can say that you DECIDED
to abuse yourself and get this illness, rather than admit that it
crept up on you as a result of ignorance or misinformation!
We worry about the causes of illness. Yet, the fact of the matter
is that if the body’s defense and repair systems are properly
maintained, and not allowed to deteriorate with increasing age or
misuse, they will remain adequate to fight off even the worst
diseases right into extreme old age. It IS possible to do a huge
amount to slow the body’s deterioration. So why not do it?
Serious diseases may be diagnosed overnight, but they are
unlikely to ever have been created that rapidly. On the purely
physical level, they are usually the result of a long process of
continual attack against the body’s gradual immune systems. As
long as the latter are maintained, disease can definitely be
fought off better than if the defense system is badly
However, the physical body is the grossest level of our being.
There exists also the mental and spiritual. It is rightly said
that disease (or better dis-ease) manifests on the spiritual and
then mental levels long before it manifests on the physical.
Hence, wellness is truly a total body concept, and not purely a
physical matter. Nurturing is needed at all levels of your being.
This may sound old-fashioned, but we DO need to take long-term
preventative care of ourselves through proper exercise, diet,
and spiritual recuperation, rather than just expecting the
doctor to fix us up when something goes wrong. We are not cars,
and doctors are not mechanics. It doesn’t work that way, as you
will find out if you ever become seriously ill.
Hence, you are well advise to start researching healthy diet,
exercise, relaxation and similar topics right now, and not wait
until it becomes critical. It does make sense to integrate
conventional medicine with the best of the so-called
“alternative” systems out there. However, caution and careful
research is advised. Claims are made repeatedly for all kinds
of products without any evidence, until it becomes almost
self-evident that they are “good for you”. However, you need to
ask yourself what the basis is for your opinion; an age-old
proven healing system, medical scientific research, or merely
because everybody says so?
In the case of my mother, the irony is that she DOES take much
more care of herself than most people. But even so, we were left
pondering the things that she did NOT do or know that might have
led to the gradual compromise of her body’s inner defense system.
Hence, good thorough preventative care can definitely reduce the
risks of serious problems later. In most cases, the human body,
if properly maintained and cared for, can live to be at least 120
years old under the current technology. With future technology,
that figure can only rise. So, if most of us die long before the
age of 100, you have to ask why…..
Relatives and friends should try to give the afflicted person an
ear to express themselves and be heard at all times. Listening is
frankly better than too much talking. You don’t want to stifle
the person with opinions, theories or even subtle blame.
Practical supportive advice, such as discussing the medical
opinions and diagnosis makes sense. However, telling the person
that they caused it through their own negative mindset, or
something like that, will not help much. Rather, it makes more
sense to give the ill person space to express their feelings;
their fears, hopes and doubts, without concern that they might be
Also, if the illness/surgery is not likely to be fatal on the
short term, does it make sense to recommend that the ill person
start getting all their affairs in order “just in case”? That is
frankly a question for you. Certainly, these matters should be
attended to well in advance. But at this moment of serious
My own preference, if the person is not on his/her deathbed, is
to focus the dialog on healing, and all the options for doing
that. Whatever you focus on, you often tend to get more of. Focus
on the solution and you get hope and the possibility of a
breakthrough. Focus on illness and possible death, and the sick
person could become depressed and unresourceful in seeking their
own healing solutions.
A balance needs to be struck. You can’t be artificially positive
and refuse to talk about other aspects of the situation. However,
it cannot pay to be morbid or focus on the negative side for too
long. Your role in helping such a person is to lend the helping
hand that aids the ill person to feel hope, purpose and meaning
to their life, even in the midst of a major crisis.
The body DOES have incrèdible recuperative powers that modern
science cannot explain. However, it does seem to be connected to
will and a determination to win through. Hence, helping the
person to feel that this is possible is important, where
appropriate. If surgery is however the best option, then that
needs to be decided through discourse between physician, the
person involved, and his/her family and frien*ds. The natur*al
therapy route may NOT be the best route if things have gone too
far, or if the will of the person involved is not inclined
towards a longer and slower solution. Each person is different,
as is each crisis illness situation. There is no simple formula.
Of course, it is also important to remember that serious
illness can often be a gift to us. It can awaken you to the
value of every day of your life, and the people and situations
you have taken for granted. Many people who have had
life-threatening illnesses consider what a great benefit it has
brought them. As with any challenge or problem, you can use a
grave illness in yourself or someone close to you to learn a vast
amount. I have recommended to my relative that she keep a journal
at this time of her thoughts and feelings.
These are some thoughts from someone who once thought himself
“immune”, but finds he is not. If you ever thought like this, you
may want to reconsider. If you already know you are not, you
should definitely ponder some of the issues mentioned here. It is
never too late to take preventative measure. There is now a huge
amount of valid health literature that can significantly improve
your life and lower drastically the chances of your coming down
with a life threatening illness. Prevention is always better than
cure. The latter may be unnecessarily prolonged, traumatic, and
even painful. And you definitely don’t need any of that.
Copyright Asoka Selvarajah 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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You can visit Asoka’s Mystic Visions site at: http://www.aksworld.com