I recently had the honor of being interviewed by my friend, Louis Vitiello, and his partner on his podcast show, “Vegan vs. Carnivore.” It was a great conversation. I got to tell my story and talk about the systemic nature of Cancer Cures and how we can all get control of our health. Have a listen!
We’ve all received bad news. Usually, it’s something like, “Somebody dented your new car in the parking lot,” or a loved one is sick. Perhaps a loved one has cancer. Or worse, a loved one has died.
But what about when the loved one is you? What about if the bad news is about you and it sounds like, “You have Stage 4 cancer” or “You have a year to live?”
The Five Emotional Stages
In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler Ross (EKR) wrote her book, On Death and Dying about the five emotional stages we experience when faced with impending death or similar bad news.
The 5 emotional stages are:
- Denial – the “No, Not Me” stage.
- Anger – the “Why me, it’s not fair!” stage
- Bargaining – the bargaining with God for more time stage
- Depression – the “I’m so sad, why bother with anything” stage.
- Acceptance – the “It’s all going to be okay” stage.
This is pretty self explanatory. It’s easy to read this and say, “Yep, that sounds well thought out; it probably bears some true.”
The problem is, these are emotional stages and you have to FEEL them. It’s not an intellectual exercise. Cancer weighs heavy on your heart. You can’t appreciate it without having experienced a similar situation where you broke down into one or more of these stages.
I can now tell you with perfect authority that EKR was dead on in her assessment of the emotional journey. She points out that it’s not always in that order, but we experience these steps nevertheless.
For me, Denial was over quickly. When you have emergency surgery to save your life, it’s hard to deny it. It just is.
I tend to not be a very angry person, so for me, it was more a feeling of frustration. The triple whammy of healing from surgery, emptying a colostomy bag several times a day, and treating myself for cancer was enough to anger the best of us and I was definitely there.
The thing about cancer is that we’ve been told, and are conditioned to believe, that it’s a death sentence. That was what I knew at first. I freely admit to bargaining with God. I asked God to help me understand what my life was for, now that I might die. I asked for more time. I asked God to teach me what I needed to know. I asked God to live through me so that what remained of my life would mean something.
What followed was a bouncing around between depression, more bargaining, and some grudging acceptance. It took a while to allow all these concepts to settle in my heart. To “get used to it.” But that didn’t make it any better.
Which brings me to the notion that EKR did not mention, which is Surrender
Surrender is the step between the steps. And it’s done often. With each emotional state, the heart holds onto it, indulging itself in the moment. It doesn’t want to let go because it’s entitled to it. The heart is Angry and, damn it, it’s entitled to be angry!
Eventually emotions pass. Passing, though, is the heart surrendering to the inevitable reality of the situation. Here’s where it gets tricky, though.
If cancer is a “death sentence” and you surrender to cancer as a death sentence, then the heart makes the death sentence real, i.e., you will die.
I’ve spoken to many people with stories of loved ones who just surrendered and did nothing about it, did not change any behaviors and died pretty quickly.
Between the emotional state and surrendering to death, there are gradations. For example, just surrendering to the truth of the diagnosis and NOT to the “inevitability” of the prognosis. That would mean that you accept that you have cancer, but you don’t just accept what your doctor told you about the death sentence.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial and my dad taught me to fix just about anything. So I took those skills and started scrambling to learn more about cancer. I took my prognosis as a hypothesis and set out to disprove it.
I researched everything I could find on cancer. What it is, how it works and, most importantly, how to treat it.
For me, surrendering to the truth of the diagnosis was useful to me and did not leave me paralyzed. I was, rather, motivated to learn what I could do for myself.
Does this mean I did not get depressed? Does this mean I accepted everything? Not really.
What I learned challenged me more than anything else I’ve ever had to learn or do. Between reading this or that, I fought off depression, gloom, feeling distraught.
I had many things to accept and it’s not been easy. Here’s a list of some of the things I needed to accept in surrender.
- that I had cancer at all
- my body will continue to grow cancer
- I might die sooner than I expected
- the doctor might be right
- the doctor might be wrong
- the medical profession might be suppressing other ways of successfully treating cancer
- I might be able to treat myself
- I might live a full life, even with cancer
Fortunately, I’ve had some great mentors. In 1987, my first client, Antreas, told me that I needed to trust myself and trust in the karma of the universe.
Acceptance of something inevitable requires little more than simple surrender. Then, it’s more like waiting and just doing nothing.
Acceptance of an uncertain future possibility requires Andreas’ kind of trust. In my case, it’s surrendering to trust. Trust is the essence of faith.
What I had to trust was that there are physicians who are healing cancer outside of mainstream medicine. I had to trust that surgery-chemo-radiation (slash-poison-burn) were not the only possible treatments. I had to trust that completely healing my body was possible.
The alternative was for me to surrender to death without a fight. To just accept the common conceptions and accept the doctors’ words without question and just go gently into that good night.
I don’t think so.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on that sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~ Dylan Thomas
My first surgery did save my life by removing a cancerous tumor blocking my colon. There was no choice in the matter. My second elective surgery reconnected my colon, giving me normal bowel function. These last four months have been an up and down journey. I’ve experienced the full range of emotions and come to terms (mostly) with my situation.
I am still dealing with these emotions, though. Surrender and Trust help to get through it. I choose to trust that I can heal myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t get a little down, or frustrated, or want it healed right now. It doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts.
It means that I’m human and I own my emotions. It means that I’m not completely ruled by my emotions. I surrender to reality and the now. I will not go gently into that good night. I practice living in the moment and trusting in tomorrow.
A good friend sent me this inspirational piece. I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s worth the read. Enjoy! ~ rg
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.”
I wanted to go but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. “I will come next Tuesday”, I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.
“Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog. There is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!”
My daughter smiled calmly and said, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.”
“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.
“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.”
“How far will we have to drive?”
“Oh, just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “But I’ll drive. I’m used to this.”
After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage!”
“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”
“Carolyn,” I said sternly, “please turn around.”
“It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience”
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign with an arrow that read, “Daffodil Garden”. We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and it’s surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
“Who did this?” I asked Carolyn.
“Just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.”
Carolyn pointed to a well kept A-frame house, small and modest, sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby-step at time – and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.
She was right. It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use today?”
NOTE from Robert: This article is reprinted with permission of the author, Bill Sarine. When Bill told me this story, it touched my heart. As a person fighting off cancer, I’d given much thought to my remaining “Time”….
It was 1975 in Chicago and I was a salesman for a large computer company. I had a number of large accounts including Illinois Bell Telephone and American Can Printing Company. One day I was waiting in the American Can office pending my appointment and was watching a young man through the display window, running tapes on the computer system. It was a print shop and he was loading machines and then going to the command console and rapidly keying in command codes on a key panel in computer code. This fascinated me that anyone that could not only remember all the codes but key them in so rapidly.
The manager I was meeting with came out and I commented to him how amazed I was at the skill of the young man. He nodded and with a quiet voice told me he had some bad news for the young man. The company was closing down the print operation and moving it to another site. He was going to have to let him go. What made it more difficult was that this young man had no education and was the support for his entire family. His father had died and he had his mother and three siblings to support. He said he always came in early worked late and never complained.
Later that day I was meeting with the Comptroller of Illinois Bell and on a whim asked if they had any affirmative action difficulties. He immediately got serious and said one of his greatest challenges was finding qualified people with technical skills. I told him about Petro. He indicated he would like to speak to him and asked me to set up an interview. We set a time for the following day.
I called his boss and arranged to meet Petro at his office early so I could give him some briefing.
The next day when I met Petro I immediately decided that Jeans and worn sneakers were not the appropriate attire for an interview. We went to Marshall Field’s Bargain basement, fit him out with a suit, shirt, tie new shoes etc. he felt very uncomfortable so I decided to give him a pep talk.
When I was starting in business one of my first mentors pulled me aside and gave me a watch. It was a simple Timex but the words he said always stayed with me.
I never will forget that look as he stared at the watch. I dropped him at the reception desk and with shaking legs he walked into the interview. Over an hour later he emerged with a glow in his eyes. Smiling he said he got the job.
I lost touch with Petro over the years but heard he was doing well. I moved on to North Carolina and 30 years passed. Now I was running a company in the east and distributing electronics nationally. Attending a trade show in San Diego I had a very hectic schedule of booth operations, press conferences and committee meetings. Tired and exhausted on the third day I was taking a break with my 3rd cup of coffee when a well dressed gentleman approached me and said; “are you Mr. Sarine formerly from Chicago?” I nodded yes and then he dropped the bomb. “You may not remember me but I used to be called Petro. I am now Peter and I hoped I would have the chance to meet you again.” I guess I showed my shock. He explained that he had been given an opportunity to finish his education and in fact had a master’s degree from Northwestern and was now on the staff of ATT Headquarters in NJ. He was married with 2 children and a fine life. We planned to have dinner that night.
At dinner he stated he had a gift for me and handed me a box. In it was a new watch. Included was a note that will always be sacred to me.
Thanks for your faith in me.
Since then I have made it a practice to always have a spare watch available to pass on when needed. The price of the watch is not relevant. It is the use of time that is.
This article is Copyright © by Bill Sarine, Writers Guild of America Registration number 1706756
Just want to share this interview with me that took place on Marilyn Lipman Shannon’s show, “Breaking Free,” on Monday, April 28th. I was very honored to be Marilyn’s guest and had a great time speaking about life and breaking free of cancer! Considering all the challenges I’ve had this year, and what I’ve got to break free of, it was wonderful to be able to share that with Marilyn and her listeners
For more information on Marilyn Shannon’s show, Breaking Free, please click on this link, http://www.nissancommunications.com/breakingfree.php
It’s been 3 months since my diagnosis.
My first reaction was, “damn, that sucks.” I had no context for any significant emotional reaction, at first.
I studied cancer for the next six weeks seeking a cure. Then I met with my oncologist, who gave me some emotional context in the form of his telling me, “if you do nothing, I’d give you 12 months to live – if you do Chemotherapy, I’ll give you 30 months.” How’s that for context? My oncologist said that part of his job is to instill a sense of urgency in me.
Mission accomplished! Now I was scared silly, filled with fear of cancer with his two choices and my own 6 weeks of study. Well, doors number 1 and 2 from my oncologist are completely unacceptable. But my own door number 3 was looking better and better. All the cures I’d been reading about had much better cure rates than my oncologist. So, door number 3 it was.
Having decided on my cancer cure, I began my treatment in earnest, following Bill Henderson’s modified Budwig protocol. I’ve been doing that for a couple of months now with high hopes for a good outcome.
Last Thursday, I went for my second MRI, but I still have to wait until Monday to get the results – to see if my Liver is much improved.
Do you remember the Heinz Catsup commercial, “Anticipation… is keeping me waiting….” Well, I didn’t realize how much I’d been bottling up while I “cheerfully” went about making my shakes in the morning and eating well during the day and exercising. Deep down, I’ve been harboring this nagging fear, “what if it does not work?” I didn’t realize, though, just how this anticipation and trepidation were feeling inside of me until I made a simple phone call.
On Friday, the day after my MRI, I called my friend Bill Sarine. Bill is one of my favorite people, a mentor and a good friend. Bill did not know about my cancer diagnosis before the call. So, I called him to tell him about it. Before I got to tell him, though, he got to telling me a story.
First you need to know that Bill is a great story teller. He’s lived a life so rich in experience that his stories echo with sage wisdom.
He told me a story about a man named Pedro that he helped find a job many years ago. At one point in the story, Bill told the man that his time was his own and he should not waste a moment of it.
Since a cancer diagnosis typically includes a significant lifespan reduction, Bill’s story took me right over my emotional edge. I found myself crying on the phone with Bill asking me what was wrong?
What was wrong was that I’ve been on the razor’s edge teetering between courage and fear – and I just had not been fully conscious of the extent of my true feelings of fear.
On the one hand, I made a choice to follow a non-traditional course of treatment. I had to trust myself and the treatment. I had to have faith and believe that a good outcome was not only possible, but inevitable.
On the other hand was the fear and uncertainty that was there all the time since the diagnosis. I had been trusting and believing in my chosen path, all the while sitting on a nagging fear that it might not work.
Make no mistake, I do feel that I’m on the right path. I do feel better. I’ve had an MRI to verify that my treatment is actually working and healing my liver – and I won’t find out the results until Monday, a wait of 4 days, or, more precisely, 8 weeks and 4 days!
For 8 weeks, in cooperation with my oncologist, I’ve been running my own little clinical trial of one. This MRI will prove that I’m not crazy. It will prove that I may have been inspired.
All the while, I face every day with my courage battling to win over my fear. No matter the way I feel, the evidence of healing, my outward demeanor, my telling people that I’m healing myself and feeling fine, there’s an underlying primal fear of dying that can not be ignored.
My surprising awakening came right in the middle of my friend Bill’s wonderful story about Pedro. I am so thankful for that. Serendipity comes to us in many ways. Sometimes it’s just a phone call away. Thank you Bill!
After Bill’s call, I realized that fear of cancer does not have to rule me. Having a little fear does not mean I will fail to heal myself. It’s human to have concerns. But we deal with them. Every business person understands Risk – calculated risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have to venture a probable cure against a certain death.
By the way, Bill is allowing me to reprint his very moving story on this blog for your enjoyment. That’s why I’ve not told you much of the story here. I want you to hear it from Bill in his own words.
I’ll end with the promise to let you know as soon as I get my results on Monday. I’ll also be posting Bill’s story next week and will let you know when it’s available for you to enjoy.
Just remember, when you are afraid, it’s not real, even though it sure feels that way. Go ahead and look your fears right in the eye and acknowledge them. Then, ask them to step aside so you can move on and do what you have to do.
After that, it’s up to you. Set your goals and make one better choice at a time, every day.
Until next time ~ Robert