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.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
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.
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.
“This clock represents your time. You own it… and are the only one that can control it. Time is given to each of us and what we do with it sets us apart from everyone else. You can waste it, cherish it and grow or not– it is your clock and the time is yours to control. Use it wisely or foolishly but no matter what you cannot go back just forward.”
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.
“This is your new clock to replace the one you gave me. I am sorry I cannot return the original as I have already passed it on to another with your words. May it serve others as it did 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
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
Last weeks post mentioned the 5 Keys to a Healthy, Cancer-Killing Immune system. This week, we’ll expand on each of the 5 keys. If you followed last weeks post, you know that you must choose to live, choose to change your lifestyle, and learn what that means in terms of the specifics. I.e., you need to know what to eat and what to not eat, for example.
1 Eat Organic, Natural Vegetarian Food
Before I even knew anything else, I knew that a vegetarian diet was best for us. Funny how I knew that, but didn’t act on it until I was diagnosed with cancer? It is said that most people only really change when they are too afraid not to.
People only really Change when they are too afraid not to.
Guilty as charged. Immediately after surgery, I started eating a vegetarian diet. I went vegan and cut out all meat and diary, and minimized all forms of sugar and glutenous flour. That means I eat mostly Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Legumes. You might think that’s boring. But there are some rather tasty spices that are also chock full of anti-cancer ingredients that makes it all taste great! Among the most important spices are Turmeric, Cumin, Oregano, and many others. Juicing of veggies is also a major part of most healthy diets. Alternative cancer treatments start with some form of vegetarian diet as a base and build on top of it. There is a wonderful website you can check to research this more called CancerTutor.com. Take a look and you’ll see just how essential it is to cut out the meat and diary.
Most important, avoid sugar – and the taste of sugar (sweet) – like the plague. Anything that metabolizes into
2 Alkalize your body
Most people eating a typically western diet suffer from acidosis. Acidosis is an acidic ph balance in the blood and throughout the body. It is widely recognized that disease and especially cancer likes to to live in an acidic body. The opposite is also true. Cancer can not live in an alkaline body. Take a look at the recently posted PH Food Chart and look at the right side columns to see what foods promote a healthy alkaline PH in your body. Acidic bodies are also lower in oxygen vs. Alkaline bodies which are higher in oxygen. Cancer cells are anaerobic and hate oxygen. This is why you don’t see “Heart Cancer” because the heart is the most oxygenated organ in the body getting oxygen directly from the lungs and then sending it to the rest of the body.
3 Lower your stress
Stress is more detrimental to your health than you think. Half of the US population suffers from stress related ailments. Psychological stress causes your body to generate chemicals that have adverse impact on your health overall. Cortisol is one of those chemicals that can cause all kinds of problems. Read about Cortisol it here.
Areas to look to reduce stress are:
- Your Environment. Look around you. Do you like your room? Is it a mess? How about your apartment or home? Is it conducive to relaxing and being safe and comfortable? Could you use aroma therapy like diffusing essential oils to help you relax?
- Your Job. Do you like your job? Is your job stressing you out? Can you get a job that you might enjoy more?
- Your Relationships. Surround yourself with people with positive attitudes. You don’t need to have people around you talking about negative or upsetting topics while you are recovering from cancer.
- The Nightly News. Do you really need to fill your mind with negative stories about the horrors of daily life? ‘nough said.
- Exercise. See below. Exercise is essential
- Spirituality. Whatever you believe, there are some essential concepts that you need to consider. Forgiveness is one. Grudges. Hating. Being Angry. Find a way to forgive and let it go. If you are holding onto a old offense or hurt, let it go. You don’t need it and it’s killing you, however slowly. If you pray, then speak to your God. If you don’t, then do what you need to do to find peace.
Overall, do whatever you can to reduce stress in every area of your life. Every little bit counts! Just do it.
4 Take Natural Supplements
Augment your immune system with the Immune System strengthening and supporting natural supplements that you need for your body. I know that there are literally thousands of supplements out there at the local vitamin shop or GNC store. But there are certain things that you simply must have and you may have to supplement to get it. For example, if you don’t get a lot of sun, you will need to take vitamin D. Many reportedly effective alternative cancer treatments make use of well chosen supplements to help you heal and boost your immune system.
Supplements simply can not be ignored in a cancer therapy. With Cancer, your immune system is compromised (or you would not have grown cancer). You need to mend your immune system as quickly as possible. You can only eat so much food at a time. No matter how good the food, you will need MORE nutrients than you can get from the food to initially stem the tide of cancer in your body.
I’m following the supplement regimen recommended by Bill Henderson in his book, Cancer-Free. All I can say is, it’s working for me. It’s cost effective and extremely potent.
That’s right, Exercise…and do it for the rest of your life! I read a great book called, “Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley. In Younger Next Year, the authors assert that you need to do something aerobic 4 times a week and strength training like [preferably] lift free weights twice a week – for the rest of your life.
That may sound brash, but it’s true. Remember the old adage, “Use it or lose it.” If you don’t exercise, you will soon BE an “old adage.” Seriously, though, cancer cells are “anaerobic.” That means a cancer cell’s metabolism does not require oxygen, nor do they like it. Cancer cells “eat” glucose. The more sugar you consume, the better your cancer cells like it. This is exactly why I suggested above that you avoid sugar and sweeteners like the plague, unless you want to feed your cancer.
What we are talking about is not just a few minor changes in your life, but a complete overhaul of your lifestyle. But it means you have a choice. You can choose to change your life and live happily for a long, long time, or do the standard chemo/radiation and be on the 2-5 year “cure” plan?
That is the question, as Hamlet put it so concisely. In my next article, I’ll expand on the 5 Keys to a Healthy, Cancer-Killing Immune System.
Again, I ask you, What are you going to do?
For all those that love you. For yourself. For all the people in your life whose lives you can be part of, I implore you to Choose Life! Carpe Diem. Seize the day.
It’s clear. You are the cure to your own cancer. It’s all you.
That may be scary. You might rather that there really was a magic pill. But there is not. You simply must choose to nurture and cure yourself.
This is what it really means to change your mindset and your lifestyle. As I said previously, I’m here to help you. I’ll publish as much as I can to help you find your own healing path. Living with cancer requires you start making better choices right now, and every now for the rest of your life.
Remember… To be or not to be. It’s your choice. Start by making one better choice for life, today!
If you think you can, or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.
~ Henry Ford
Nobody likes pessimistic, cynical of negative people. Why? Because that negative energy is actually harmful to more than the mood in the room.
In fact, if you are diagnosed with cancer, negativity can kill! No matter what cancer cure therapy you choose, your mindset is a critical factor in your recovery and continuing health.
Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Well, Robert Geiger says, “If you think your cancer can be cured, or you don’t think it can be cured, you’re right.”
When I first got my diagnosis, fortunately for me, I was still pressing the “pain button” frequently enough to numb both the pain of surgery and the psychological pain of “stage 4 cancer.” As if that wasn’t enough, looking at myself in the mirror was a horror show. I looked like I walked into a Samurai sword. Everything I learned about my diagnosis was BAD.
I remember breaking down into tears at least once an hour. I didn’t even know why half the time. I recall talking to my sister about feeling completely lost in the woods. What’s my purpose? Was there a point to my life, now that things looked so bleak?
Clearly, my first task was to work through my psychological pain. I needed a major mindset adjustment if I was going to make it.
It helped to find out that I was not alone. Many people have the same problem with a positive mindset after getting such bad news. That point was driven home for me when I listened to Dr. Lissa Rankin’s TEDx talk, Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves? Listen to it below and you’ll see what I mean.
Dr. Lissa Rankin: Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves?
I’ll summarize one of her stories for you. Dr. Rankin tells about a man who read about a treatment that was said to have great promise for his cancer. He got his doctor to give him this treatment and his cancer cleared up. Shortly after that, the man read that the story of the treatment’s efficacy were greatly over stated. His confidence in his cancer sure was crushed. His cancer came back shortly thereafter.
Here’s the interesting part. His doctor thought that his recovery should not have happened the first time! So the doctor decided to do a little experiment. He told the man that there was a brand new better version of the drug and would like to start the therapy immediately. The man immediately brightened up, all excited about his new cancer cure. The doctor proceeded to give him a course of saline solution (water). The result? His cancer completely went away.
Sadly, the man caught a news report that declared the new drug a complete bust. Shortly after that, the man died.
His confidence and positive mental attitude created not just the possibility for a cancer cure, but the cure itself!
There are numerous cases like this that the medical profession calls, “spontaneous remission.” That means there is no medical reason they should be alive. But they are.
The Solution is Mindset
The solution is obvious. It was their Mindset!
You may think that’s just Pollyanna. You may think I’m suggesting you paste a smile over a sad face even if you don’t feel like it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The fact is, you have to process your emotions, no matter what they might be. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad, being angry, feeling cheated by life or just being afraid. It’s perfectly natural. But emotions are not the truth. Fearing something does not make it the truth.
A cancer curing mindset is one that holds onto the possibility that cancer can be cured and you can cure your cancer. The good news is that you can know and be confident knowing that cancer can be cured. You can know that YOU can cure your own cancer. You can choose to trust. There’s plenty of people who are more than just surviving cancer. They are thriving in their lives.
Finally, there’s no downside to adjusting your mindset and believing in the possibility of life.