Q & A with Bernie – July 11, 2016

Question for Bernie:

When first diagnosed with metastatic cancer and feeling lost, what is the first thing one should do?

Bernie’s Answer:

Ask for help as you are right now.  Read the Immune Competent Personality list on my website www.berniesiegelmd.com.

Create a life you love, and love your body.  You have the potential to survive and are not a statistic.

Find doctors and other health care professionals (like naturopathic physicians) who you feel good seeing, and who have excellent communication skills to explain everything to you as they guide and treat you.

Read my books and learn!

Peace, Love & Healing,

Question for Bernie:

I have been diagnosed with an invasive bladder cancer. It is recommended that I have surgery by August 1st to have the bladder and all girl parts removed, then getting an external device to get rid of urine. This is life changing and the surgeon says if I do it soon, it will preserve a long life expectancy. I am very healthy and strong, but now this.

I have no history or family history of cancer, so this all comes as a great shock. Not sure what advice I am seeking. It is all going quite fast. I am seeing an oncologist next week to see if there are other options, but it is not expected that there are, unless there is something new.

I am working to get my head and heart around a changed life and loving myself with this unfamiliar and difficult process ahead of me.

Do you have advice that can help me be spiritually grounded, and find peace with this so difficult a situation?  Thank you.

Bernie’s Answer:

Read my books, Love, Medicine & Miracles and The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing, to help coach you.

It is your life and body, and you can do what is right for you. Or, you could decide to put all your effort in trying not to die and do what all the doctors tell you to do.

You can argue with God and get him going, or realize God is with you and can help you heal.

Your intuitive wisdom knows what is right, so listen to your heart and not your head as you make decisions.

Drawings of your treatment options can help you get in touch with your intuitive self, and so can writing down the details you remember about your dreams.

Make a list of the negative words that you would use to describe how you are feeling physically and emotionally.  With that list, look for any place else in your life where those negative words are applicable.  Whether you use them to describe people in your life or situations, take steps to eliminate them from your life. This can go a long way in helping you heal.

For example, why your bladder? Are you pissed off about something? Look for symbols that can help.  Giving up your bladder is not the issue. Your self-esteem and self-worth are.

I hope this helps.  I know people who have made changes, left their troubles to God, and had their incurable cancers disappear. You always have the potential for self-induced healing.


Question for Bernie:

I’ve messaged you before. I’m not sure what’s happening to me in my life.  I’m allegedly a very intelligent guy but I keep [messing] up.

I need a miracle to stop me smoking and drinking.  I want to love myself and fall in love, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to.  I know you care about people and about me.  I hope you can help me.


Bernie’s Answer:

It is the result of having a childhood that was lacking love.  Without parental love and attention, children feel that their parents are simply indifferent to them, or have rejected them entirely.  Your inability to love yourself could also be the result of physical abuse that occurred along with emotional abuse. Either one, or both, are very often at the root of problems in adulthood that seem insoluble.  BUT you CAN solve them and give yourself the gift of a whole, happy life.

Stop seeking what you want by behaving as an addict who has run out of drugs and alcohol.  Quiet your mind and be intentional about wanting to heal.

Become addicted to your well being. And be proud when you say “no” to a cigarette or drink.

What you deserve is not to poison yourself.

Put up your childhood pictures around your home, and every time you see one of them, say to that kid in the picture, “I love you!”   You can re-parent yourself and fill the emotional hole left by feeling unloved during your childhood.

I will be your CD (Chosen Dad) and re-parent you.  You are loved, although I don’t like some of your behaviors.

Read the article about being a Chosen Dad (CD) below.

Peace, Love, and Healing,

by Bernie Siegel, MD,
New Haven, Connecticut
July 11, 2016 Bernie Q&A Addendum

Before I begin my Chosen Dad story I want to say that Dr. Norman Vincent Peake, and his wife Ruth, were friends and teachers of mine. I participated in many of their conferences and church services in New York. Three messages I would leave with you from them are: Norman’s Mom would say to him: Norman if God slams one door further down the corridor another will be open. When I said to him that after growing up in New York I couldn’t stand the crowds and noise anymore and that I loved the quiet country he said, Bernie it is not the quiet or the noise it is the rhythm that counts. If New York is your rhythm and in harmony with your life it is the right place and provides energy for you to be creative. So find your rhythm and harmony. I have learned the truth in his messages. I also loved it when Ruth would appear on stage at conferences to introduce Norman with everyone expecting an extended and detailed description of all his wonderful works and deeds. But she would simply say, “Here’s Norman.” The audience would all laugh as Norman came up on the stage. It was a wonderful way of revealing his humble nature and making us all feel like someone, too—and now to my story.

Several decades ago I attended a conference to empower cancer patients and help them to heal, given by Dr. Carl Simonton, who had just written the book Getting Well Again. I was there to try and learn ways to help cancer patients live with their experience by looking for the cause not by the diagnosis. I felt ill-prepared by my traditional medical training to care for people as a whole being, and not just treat their diagnosis. Being a doctor can be a painful experience. At the conference one of my patients sat next to me. She turned to me and said, “You’re a nice guy and I feel better when I am in the office with you, but I can’t take you home with me. So I need to know how to live between office visits.”

Her words redirected my life. I went back to my office and began running support groups for cancer patients. It was called ECaP, or Exceptional Cancer Patients, exceptional because of how few patients chose to participate in a group designed to help them to heal for fear of failing.  I began to realize the power our experience as children has upon our lives and health. In one study almost 100% of people who said, “My parents didn’t love me,” had experienced a serious illness by middle age, while only 25% of those who said, “I felt loved as a child,” did.

So I continue my support groups, and I continue my efforts to re-parent people by letting them know that I love them. One day, a suicidal teenager I was counseling in my office said to me, “You’re my CD.”

I said, “What are you talking about—I’m a CD?”

“You’re my Chosen Dad,” she replied. Those words touched my heart and showed me how powerful our love for one another can be. I must add, it didn’t mean I liked everything the people I loved were doing, but that I loved them.

After she said that to me, I began telling people who had wounded childhoods, including my patients and others in need, that no matter what age they were, I would be their Chosen Dad (CD). I could see the benefits that this offer created, as they began to realize that they were no longer being rejected, but were hearing and seeing me demonstrate that they were worth loving. And then they started caring for themselves.

The love makes all the difference for your biological as well as your Chosen Children.      Several years after the event, I came home from the office one day to find a message on my answering machine. I turned it on and heard, “Doctor Siegel, can you provide me with Jack Kevorkian’s phone number. I want to be dead. I have been sexually abused, I have a brain tumor, and I want him to help me end my life.” She then provided her call back number for my response.

I, of course, did not have Dr. Kevorkian’s number. I help people to die with dignity when they are ready, but I do not help them commit suicide. I have even said to one man who called me, “If you commit suicide, I’ll never talk to you again.” He showed up in my office furious over my insensitivity until I pointed out that my words had worked. He was still alive, and we went on to become close friends.

I called the number left on my answering machine and when she answered learned her name was Becky. I told Becky she was a child of God and that I loved her, and asked if she would send me two drawings done with crayons so I could help her. One was to be an outdoor scene and the other, a drawing of herself. Becky agreed to do so and in short order the two drawings arrived. Please understand I do a great deal of work with patients’ drawings, which can reveal unconscious information similar to a dream, and also help them make decisions about factors in their lives, ranging from family to treatments. My book, The Art of Healing, makes their value and information available to everyone.

In the drawing, Becky drew a tree with a large black knothole filling a portion of the trunk of the tree; in the drawing of herself, her face was covered all over with innumerable dots. After calling her to discuss the drawings, I knew the tree represented Becky and realized the dark knothole was related to the years of her abuse. In other words, if I know her age today, and the tree is Becky, then I can measure the length to represent the years of her life, and thus know how old she was when the black covers her life and body. After we talked I knew my interpretation was true.

I then asked her, “Why all the spots on your face?” I can still hear her say, “That’s how many times he did it.” That hit home for me. We continued to talk, and I let her know that she was a good soul, deserving of love and not the emotional and physical problems related to her family and brain tumors. Then I offered to be her CD or Chosen Dad, and thank God she took me up on it. I told her to give herself a new name and begin a new life free of the wounds from the past. “Lo and behold,” she said, “Rosie1” I told her it was no coincidence that my mother’s name was Rose. I truly felt it was all meant to be.

Becky and I have met when I visited her home state on my lecture tour. We really are family and bonded to each other. I know I can count on getting a Father’s Day card from Becky before I get one from one of our five kids. I am not complaining about our kids. I’m complaining about what causes someone to need a CD or CM (and Chosen Moms, too).  They need us because their past has been one of parental or guardian indifference, rejection, and emotional abuse, with or without physical abuse—not about love.

The following was sent to us one year ago by one of our adult children who has had his share of troubled times, too.  We had our hands full raising and learning from him and his siblings.

“Dad, I just wanted you to know that all my life you have been my hero. From the time I was a little boy throughout my whole life. All the times you came to school for show and tell and brought my pets in and all the classes you visited with body parts that fascinated and put in awe the entire school. All the pets you let me have and all the understanding and love you gave me no matter what. All the people you put back together when they were broken. I was always so proud to be your son and I always will be. I don’t think there is anyone else in the world that will ever know what it means to have a father like you and a mother like mom. I just wanted you to know this, so if the day comes when I can’t tell you how much you both mean to me, you will know because I put it into words way before that day came. Love, Jeff”

A few years ago Becky sent me gift subscription to Guideposts, and recently one of the articles had me in tears, so I sent her an email telling her how grateful I was to have her in our family, and to thank her for being my Chosen Daughter.

In closing here is the message from Rosie’s card. “A smile ran across my face today because you ran across my mind. Funny how often that happens.” Her note read: “I think of you every day. You are an angel in my life.” At the top of the card: “All my love, Becky” and at the bottom: “Love Ya, Rosie!”

Peace, Love, & Healing,

  1. Grace Hernandez

    I am waiting for an appointment with an oncologist to find out what it is I am up against. If I know what I am fighting it will be easier. My daughter has ordered your book for me on Amazon and I am looking forward to reading it. The first painting I ever did was of myself, and it is a tree, with firmly planted roots and a fire under the roots. I am 80 and have a wonderful husband who is younger and is my caregiver for other medical issues. I have an ostomy. Looking forward to your book coming.