Robert Augustus Masters

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Listening to Cancer

  • August 12, 2015
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We all have cancerous cells, but only in some of us does cancer take up residence, having significantly fended off our immune system.

Cancer. We have an incredible amount of information about it, but still do not know it very well. Billions have been spent on studying it, but very little has been spent on really listening to it.

Cancer is not much more than cells gone awry, cells out of touch, cells without natural communication, the lines cut, the messages garbled, the march toward colonizing new territory operationally akin to an army blindly following a blind commander, intoxicated with imperialistic ambition and consumerist frenzy.

Cancer is cellular chaos, cellular insanity — in killing its host, it kills itself, with no more intelligence than that of a mass of lemmings going straight over a cliff’s edge. Still, it has something to say.

We’ve had a much-publicized, very expensive war on cancer for quite some time, and we’re not exactly winning.

Standard procedures for dealing with cancer, regardless of their sophistication, often only make more trouble; for example, when our immune system gets battered and bombed — as a “side-effect” — by a particular treatment, we may be made more susceptible to any cancer occupying us in places other than our original cancer site. And so on.

Not that standard procedures aren’t sometimes called for, but we easily tend to overrely on them, frequently being too quick to opt for surgery or chemotherapy or various forms of radiation, not giving our body enough of a chance to heal itself.

We are inculcated with the notion that to deal with cancer we must busy ourselves attacking it, fighting it, zapping it, battling it, conquering it — in short, making war on it.

The trouble is, the war that we are making on cancer is itself arguably carcinogenic, providing us with not much more than a smattering of Pyrrhic victories.

Yes, plenty of valuable research has been done regarding the biochemistry and mechanics and treatment of cancer, but very little of it has been done in the context of our innate wholeness. We keep looking for the chemical protocol, the synthetic/organic magic bullet — more war! — not realizing that what really is needed is an approach that is truly integrative, including the very best of both conventional and nonconventional treatments.

Over and over again, research has demonstrated that various plant extracts cause cancer cells to die in vitro — so why not put a lot more money and energy into studying this, along with the psychoemotional dimensions of cancer? Why not get at the root of it? Haven’t we already done enough pruning? Isn’t it time for a radically integral approach to cancer?

It’s time we dropped the war — and our overuse of war metaphors! — and started listening more closely to cancer, however difficult or challenging that might be.

Viewing cancer as an enemy is not particularly helpful, for doing so keeps us too removed from cancer, immersed in fear-based adversarial stances.

Cancer cells are cells that have lost their way. They are way, way out of balance. They have no center, other than that of the densest sort of mob mentality. They give growth a bad name.

But we nonetheless could listen more closely, especially given that decades of pushing cancer away have not made it go away. Listen — what do you hear cancer saying?

I’m listening because I’ve had prostate cancer since 2008. I remember looking with Diane and my urologist at the stark printout of the prostate biopsy I’d had a week earlier, which stated that three out of the ten biopsy samples (obtained by punching ten holes through my rectal wall so as to reach my prostate) showed cancer.

One of the samples suggested that the cancer might have spread beyond my prostate. The urologist quickly made his argument that surgery — cutting out my entire prostate — would be my best option. Yes, I’d be impotent and incontinent for the rest of my life, but his job, he brightly said, was to keep me alive as long as possible. Etcetera. We didn’t stay much longer, already intuiting that surgery wasn’t the way to go.

After some intensive research, I knew not only that surgery was out, but also that I did not want to have any radiation treatment. My intuition, along with Diane’s, was loud and clear. More than a few cancer patients die not from their cancer, but from the treatment of their cancer.

Not that I thought that radiation would necessarily kill me, but I sensed with increasing certainty that my prostate cancer could be treated naturally. So I waded and sifted through alternative approaches — and there was an overwhelming abundance of them! — eventually deciding to take a mix of powerful herbs that had been shown in clinical trials to, at the very least, reduce prostate cancer. I was already very healthy, and had a good diet, but now took this further, ingesting fitting supplements while keeping to a diet that didn’t support cancer. (And I found out that my cancer had not spread outside of my prostate.)

But, most importantly, I listened to my cancer.

It wasn’t hard to decipher its message: Slow down, and not just for a few days or weeks! As much as possible, only put energy into what’s truly life-giving. Slow down, now and now and now.

I continue to treat my cancer all-naturally (with the exception of one supplement I take once a week), and the signs (from both my lab tests and medical intuitives whom I trust) are that it is near-dormant.

I view the healing of my cancer in two primary and simultaneous ways: restorative and transmutational. It makes sense to me to attempt to restore the natural intelligence of cancerous cells; this means getting a sufficiently powerful mix of nutrients into their domain, along with a clear stream of focused awareness and compassion.

However much my cancer responds to this, it is also be encountered in a transmutational context, meaning that any cancer cells that cannot be restored to healthy functioning will simply be consumed by white blood cells, so that their constituent nutrients become but fuel for new cells, healthy cells, cells that are thriving. Cell death, cell birth.

So whatever portion of my cancer doesn’t respond, or respond fully enough, to restorative treatment, will get to provide, through its death, essential substances for healthy growth. This is simple practicality, needing no aggression to be optimally effective. No war.

I continue to listen, and to deepen my listening. This is far from a passive activity. Call it a dynamic receptivity. What I hear includes my cancer, whatever may be left of it, bringing me into ever-deepening intimacy both with what dies and what doesn’t.