Q & A with Bernie – December 31, 2012

My wishes to all for the inspiration to believe in and love yourself unconditionally, making this New Year your best yet.

inspirationHere is a poem from one of our readers that I think is perfect for the New Year.  It reflects one of my most often asked questions about the results of the kind of parenting we get…and particularly the life-long impact of that parenting.  Thank you, Susan, for sharing your poetry with us.    – Bernie

Love is the perfect healer
by Susan Duffy

I wish that my parents had

loved me with no expectations.

I would have been born Free.

Freedom of Self is the greatest

freedom that one can experience.

Bondage to Self is the greatest

prison to be caught up in.

I have spent a life time getting

out of it.

Question for Bernie:

I am writing this letter since I only recently became aware of your contribution to cancer patient healing (and I am sure NOT by accident).  I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in May of this year and underwent partial nephrectomy in September. I was lucky to have a great surgeon and surgery went well. He explained to me I should follow up every six months, and that other treatment is not necessary at this time.

This diagnosis came to me as a big surprise and had a big impact. Right away I began to question the purpose of this in my life as well as the changes that I have to make in order to heal and prevent this disease from coming back into my life in the future.  I am so grateful that I learned about your work at this important time in my life, and I am looking forward to the information about cancer and healing that I will find in your books.

I am hoping to be able to get in touch with you in order to gain more understanding about the meaning and potential psychological (and other) causes of this disease. I have already learned a lot from your website.

Thank you for everything you do for all of us who have come face-to-face with the challenges of this disease.

Bernie’s Answer:

love your lifeYes, please read my books and learn more.  You will find that one of the foundation blocks on which I have built my approach to providing cancer patients with helpful, useful information is to love your life and your body not just when you are well, but also—maybe most especially— when you are ill.  So often patients begin to hate the disease and dislike themselves for having it, as if they were somehow to blame and being punished.  Disease is a part of being human—we must not turn our backs on ourselves for having a disease.  Instead, patients must embrace their lives with love and care which strengthens the immune system so that healing happens.

My work with cancer patients over the years has taught me so much.  From those lessons I developed certain ways of confronting disease and found that people in my Exceptional Cancer Patient therapy groups really found them useful.   I call these “exercises” carefrontation.

Here’s a particularly effective carefrontation:  Ask yourself how you would describe the experience of cancer?  Is it painful—is the pain unrelenting—is it stabbing—dull and aching—keeping you from getting out—making you unusually angry—depressing you—keeping you from feeling positive about the future…and so on.  Now, look at what in your life fits any negative words you use to describe the experience and eliminate them from your life.  That might include people who make you angry with every encounter, or a job that is depressing you.  It could mean that you will have to end a friendship with a perpetually negative person…before your illness the friend was just annoying, but since you’ve been ill, you can see that her negativity is just intolerable and hindering your efforts to love yourself.

Getting a cancer diagnosis is often a “wake-up call.” Carefrontation helps you recognize that you do need to change things in your life and start giving yourself love and care before you “do everything for everyone else.”