Cancer: a connection forgotten but not lost
Never has there been a disease that puzzles people like cancer does. As the numbers affected climb relentlessly scientists are desperate to know the secrets that will allow us to bring this beast under control. But the billions of pounds and mass of brain power channelled in cancer’s direction over the last few decades has not yet come up with the answers; the disease remains a mystery unsolved. Of course progress has been made. For example when it comes to causes we know certain factors that increase our risk such as smoking, obesity and particular gene mutations, but there are still huge gaps in the knowledge meaning we can’t explain why many people who smoke heavily, are extremely overweight or possess one or more of the implicated mutations never get the disease, and why large numbers of people without these mutations and living a supposedly healthy lifestyle, do. All too often it seems there is no rhyme or reason; cancer can strike anyone at any time out of the blue and with no warning. The seemingly random nature of cancer is disconcerting not only for the scientists but for us all and it adds greatly to the fear the disease generates in our society.
I find cancer puzzling too, and like everyone else I don’t have answers for why and how it develops. I do have some ideas however, and I think these are worth sharing. My ideas come not from studying the intricacies of the biochemical pathways involved in cancer, although I have studied and wondered about them a lot. Instead my ideas come from observing people who are living with, recovering, and dying from cancer. And my ideas are less to do with the physical causes of cancer, although I think these are highly relevant to the overall story, but instead relate to the deeper reasons that cancer has become such a major problem for us as individuals and as a society.
Over the last 17 years I have supported people with cancer using dietary and lifestyle practices in my work as a nutritional therapist. I have supported hundreds of people with all different types of cancer and at varying stages. Some of these people have shunned mainstream medicine and are trying an alternative approach (often after conventional treatments have failed) whilst others are receiving mainstream treatments but are complementing these with natural therapies to form an integrated approach. As I’ve worked with cancer patients over the years I’ve observed what appear to be the most powerful factors in creating illness and also in shifting a person’s journey back in the direction of health. This enquiry and reflection has naturally led me to form ideas on why cancer shows up in our lives and how the process occurs. These ideas have found their place alongside others I hold as a result of my own experiences of health and healing.
None of the ideas that have formed in my mind are new and although the way I present them may be, they have all been written about and discussed before. In fact in this time of awakening on our planet I’m finding an increasing number of people are viewing cancer from a deeper perspective as I do and are talking and writing about their ideas which gives me the impetus to do so too.
A temporary disconnection
Cancer cells are renegade cells. Following a breakdown in relationship and communication they are no longer contributing to a community that pulls together to create health within the body but instead have branched out and are going it alone. Cancer cells, it appears, no longer have the common good as their goal and have stopped responding to chemical messages being sent their way. As they ignore the appeals to work together as one, focusing instead on their own survival, chaos and destruction ensues.
A deeper truth shows us that this scenario is distorted; cancer cells are not quite the self-serving rogues they’ve been made out to be. In reality it is never the case that parts of our body are working against the rest of our being, instead all aspects of the body are being driven by the intention to help us expand and become whole and usually, but not always, this means to preserve life. Cancer cells are however using radical means to serve this purpose and at first glance it does appear that they have lost total connection with the rest of the body.
“The processes of disease aim not at the destruction of life, but the saving of it” Frederick Treves
And this is why the biochemical story of cancer reflects perfectly what I see is the deeper story. I believe that cancer does indicate a loss of connection; those cells that have broken away and are no longer listening to the flow of communication directing them towards a state of balance and health seem to be demonstrating that we as human beings have also stopped listening to our greater calling.
The guiding voice that we are not hearing has many names; some call it our ‘ higher consciousness’, our ‘higher self’ or our ‘soul’, I have chosen to use the terms ‘inner wisdom’ and ‘intuition’ in this article. This voice comes from within and also from without, and its message originates from the ultimate source of life that some would regard as God. This voice is here to inform and guide us; it’s here to teach us something very important and its purpose is always to help us reach our greatest potential. Whether we choose to listen or not it’s impossible to turn this voice off and when we’re out of its signal range, like a radio tuned to a different station, it will continue speaking, forever hoping to be heard.
As we stop hearing the inner voice that guides us on our journey through life, we start to lose our way. We stop making the choices that serve our greatest purpose and instead start reacting to life as if the only reason we’re alive is to make it through unscathed. You could say that we start living a half-life, cut off not only from the deepest part of ourselves, but also the deepest part of others. The longer we live in this survival mode where our heads are down and we’re blindly pushing forward, the less we engage with the gifts life has to offer. Many of us continue living this way until cancer shows up in an effort to save us.
The energetic, interconnected nature of life
Although the idea of an inner voice, or inner wisdom, can sound like an airy fairy one, there is growing scientific evidence that we can be energetically ‘tuned in’ if we choose to be and that the information we receive can be very valuable for our health and wellbeing. We’ll talk more about inner wisdom later on but in order to set the scene we first need to discuss the energetic nature of life and its interconnections.
One of the most amazing recent discoveries by scientists is that everything within our universe is energetically connected. All complex beings including the rocks and plants, the rivers and seas, and the animals and people, are all connected via an unseen yet powerful life force that is infinite and endless. How do we know such a force exists? It used to be that we relied on ancient cultures to teach us these ideas; we looked to places such as China where this life force is known as Chi, or India where they use the term Prana, and other ancient cultures, most of which have a description for this concept. However over the last few decades, following significant advances in several areas, modern science has reached the point where it is able to explain a lot of these ancient ideas.
If all living beings are ultimately energetic by nature, which quantum physics shows us they are, then it follows that all living beings are interconnected as energy cannot be divided. In other words all of life exists as an energetic continuum, there is no ending of one being and the beginning of another; we exist as one, even though we may appear as separate in our physical form. The fact that our individual energies flow and connect with the energies of other living systems has been confirmed by a range of scientific findings such as evidence for telepathy, demonstrations of the power of prayer and healing, and evidence that the physiological rhythms in humans as well as our collective behaviours are synchronized with solar and geomagnetic activity. In physics, quantum entanglement, whereby measuring a property of one particle simultaneously determines the property of the second particle, even when separated by great distances, clearly demonstrates our interconnectedness.
“Of the many new scientific perspectives that emerged from the 20th century, one of the most profound is that the universe is wholly and enduringly interconnected and coherent.” Rollin McCraty
Central to the idea of interconnectedness is the concept of coherence. From the physics perspective, to be coherent, energy waves must be: of the same frequency; have a constant phase difference (constant spatial phase relationship); and be of the same amplitude. Importantly, when energy waves are coherent they are able to carry information. Recently scientists have discovered that coherence exists amongst all complex living systems present in the universe which means that there is order, alignment and information sharing within and between these systems. Information sharing happens on a massive scale, such as when our bodies respond to the changes in the Earth’s magnetic fields, and it also happens on a minute scale when energetic coherence within our bodies allows our atoms, molecules and cells to communicate and share information.
Energetic communication within our bodies is an area of growing interest to scientists, who finally have an explanation as to how our cells and molecules are able to share information at lightning speed. The structural network present within the microenvironment of our cells (the extracellular matrix) is known to facilitate energetic information sharing as the component connective tissue and water molecules form a crystalline structure which allows information in the form of sound, light or other energies, to spread in an instant.
Tapping in to our inner wisdom
So how does the fact that we are energetic beings sharing energetic connections from our tiniest particles upwards, relate to our inner wisdom? And how does all of that relate to cancer? Well more about cancer later but first, what may come as a surprise to some is that the science of intuition (or inner wisdom) and its relationship to energy is a fast-developing area of research.
A whole host of cleverly designed studies have shown that we receive helpful information via our subconscious, controlled by the most ancient limbic part of the brain, and that this information reaches us almost instantaneously, a lot faster than the time required to analyse a situation consciously. Much of the information we receive subconsciously is available to us because the limbic brain, developed over thousands of years, is primed to sense danger and alert us to threats without the need for time-consuming thinking. This part of our brain has honed its skills through pattern recognition and memory recall over many, many generations and is highly effective. However, intuition is not only about taking advantage of previous learning, there’s a lot more to it.
Nonlocal intuition describes the receiving of information from beyond our physical bodies. Rather than tapping into ancient memories stored in our limbic brain we are tapping into the information-transmitting coherent energy field that connects all living beings. The fact that this energy field is almost endless means the amount of information available to us is vast.
The science of nonlocal intuition is in the early stages but is generating much interest. One organisation that has been very involved in this area of research is the American-based Heart Math Institute (HMI). The HMI is an internationally recognised non-profit organisation that for several decades has been conducting research into emotional physiology, stress and resilience, intuition, and the central role of the heart in all of these areas. The scientists at HMI believe that our inherent interconnectedness to everything in the universe allows us access to nonlocal intuition and that our heart, now known to be a highly complex information-processing centre rather than just a mechanical pump, is central in facilitating this type of intuition through its ability to receive energetic information and regulate coherence throughout the body.
As our centre of intuitive reception, the heart works closely with the brain and nervous system so that this information can be analysed and translated into action. The heart could be considered as our gateway between the intelligent energetic field that lies beyond our bodies and the energy systems within the body and in order to hone our intuition, making the most of the valuable information available to us, care of the physical and emotional heart is essential. In fact research suggests that when our heart rhythms are more coherent, reflected in a more ordered sine-wavelike pattern, we have greater access to our intuition and that it is the experience of positive emotions such as appreciation, joy and love that allows our heart to find this state of coherence.
The cutting edge science of intuition is very exciting and is demonstrating great potential benefits for us as individuals. For example studies have shown that trusting and acting on the information we receive through our intuition leads to better outcomes compared with decisions we make following logical analysis. This may be of benefit to us in all areas of our lives such as when choosing our life partner, a job or the area in which we want to live. It will of course also benefit us when making choices that relate to our health and the reverse is also true; ignoring our inner wisdom when faced with choices that affect our health could be very bad for us.
When connection is lost
Something that has struck me about the people with cancer I have supported over the years is how it often appears that they’ve been ignoring an inner calling. Commonly people are living lives where the emphasis is on serving the needs of others: children; parents; bosses; other family members; friends, whilst their own needs are neglected. The activities that nurture their bodies and feed their soul have been abandoned as the whisperings of their intuition are disregarded. Sometimes these people have been aware for a long time of the wise voice that’s been pleading for their attention, imploring them to make changes. And sometimes it’s not until cancer appears and they start to take stock that they realise how disconnected they’ve been from their inner wisdom and the things that nourish them at the deepest level.
Although I speak of lost connection it is actually impossible to lose connection to our inner wisdom and the source from which it flows. Interconnectedness of all things just is, and we can’t extract ourselves from the all-encompassing intelligent energy field that exists within our universe, and perhaps beyond. We can, however, stop listening and responding to the flow of information; we can tune out, distracted by all the pressures of modern living. And it’s very easy to become disconnected. Our Western society values information based on logic and reasoning rather than senses and feelings and as we grow up we are not taught or encouraged to trust our hunches. Even if we want to listen it is difficult to hear the soft voice of our intuition when the level of mental ‘noise’ in our modern day lives is so great.
But where does disconnection from our inner wisdom fit with the conventional views of cancer? Conventional thinking says that cancer occurs due to interactions between our genes and the environment. It may be that we have inherited a set of genes that predispose us to cancer and when these genes are triggered as a result of certain environmental exposures, the disease takes hold. As I said earlier, I believe this view of cancer is highly relevant and important but I am also interested in linking that with the deeper part of the story.
These days there are more pollutants in the air we breathe, food we eat and water we drink than ever before and coupled with this we are experiencing more sustained levels of stress. To my mind stress is a particular problem as I’ve found it to be the common thread that runs through the many cancer stories I hear and research supports the fact that our high-pressure, 24-7 lifestyles cause havoc with our health. But more than just disrupting hormones, compromising digestion and undermining the immune system, I believe stress has a bigger role to play in cancer. I believe the fact that ongoing stress robs us of the ability to tune into our inner guidance, which requires us to be in a state of quiet calm, means that we are unable to pick up the cues that tell us our life is off track. Guidance is available to us at all times regarding the things we should be doing for our bodies but if we don’t take notice we’re unable to make the necessary tweaks to restore harmony and balance. Not only will this prevent us from discovering activities that bring us as individuals the deepest fulfilment and nourishment, but it will also shut down the insight we need to determine which environmental elements are most problematic for our unique bodies leaving us highly vulnerable to the damaging effects of our toxic world.
The importance of intuition for healing
In this article I have shared my observation that many of my clients with cancer seem to have lost connection with their inner wisdom and as a result have perhaps neglected a part of their physical, emotional or spiritual care. The other thing I have noticed is that after a diagnosis, those who are willing to consider their disease as an opportunity to learn to reconnect with the truth of their inner wisdom, and make changes in their life that honour this truth, seem to have a better chance of full recovery. And I’m not the only one to have made this observation.
Kelly Turner Ph.D. was studying for a master’s degree in oncology social work when she first discovered that occasionally people living with terminal cancer undergo a ‘spontaneous healing’ and are completely cured. She was so interested in this topic that she decided to explore whether those people who recover from cancer against all the odds, do anything different from normal and she made this the topic of her Ph.D. After a decade of research and analysis of thousands of cases, including hundreds of interviews with the survivors, Kelly wrote up her research, which has now been summarised in her book; Radical Remission. Kelly identified 9 factors that came up over and over again as things the survivors did to support their healing. Interestingly, one of the 9 common factors that survivors told Kelly was so important for their healing was to ‘follow your intuition’.
“The Radical Remission survivors I study believe the body has an innate, intuitive knowledge about what it needs in order to heal, and it can often also let you know why it got sick in the first place” Kelly Turner Ph.D.
Letting go of life’s distractions and going within where we can hear the voice of our inner wisdom is a valuable skill that will serve us all. For those with cancer developing this skill is particularly important and will bring many rewards, one of which is the ability to take charge of one’s own healing. A woman very much in charge of her healing is Sophie Sabbage who has survived cancer against all odds and at the same time followed her true calling to be a writer. Although Sophie has not yet been completely cured of her stage 4 lung cancer, she has cleared most of the tumours from her body and astounded doctors with her vitality and energy. Sophie describes her incredible recovery journey in her book; The Cancer Whisperer, and throughout the story one thing is clear; a strong connection with her inner wisdom has been an essential facilitator of her healing. Sophie discusses how particularly important intuition has been in helping her make treatment decisions, especially when there’s been pressure to accept a treatment from a doctor or therapist. In these moments she believes it is vital to check in with oneself and discover what feels right.
I have to agree; whilst it is important to use intuition at all points along a journey of recovery from cancer, when it’s time to make what can be life or death treatment decisions and experts or even family or friends are trying to influence that decision, it is essential to ask deep questions of yourself and let inner wisdom provide the answers. In my experience, patients who are completely aligned with the treatments they choose, i.e. they know the route they’ve taken is right for them even though they cannot know the outcome, have a better treatment experience with less complications. I believe that if more people with cancer listened a little less intently to the highly qualified experts we so revere, and more to the only true expert when it comes to our unique health situation – ourselves, then I would see less people in my clinic who later regret their treatment decisions. Don’t get me wrong, expert advice is important, but when the opinions of experts takes precedence over the voice within that always speaks the deeper truth, then we have a problem.
As previously said, it is impossible to lose connection to our inner wisdom, it’s just that sometimes we stop listening to it. Therefore to once again tap in to the flow of information that’s always been present, is surprisingly easy. It’s not about learning a new skill, tuning in to our intuition is something natural and inherent to us, it’s about following a few simple steps and the first of these is to ask a question. If we have a desire for some information and we set the intention to receive by asking a question we open the doorway to allow information to flow to us. We can ask questions in many ways: by saying them out loud, thinking them, writing them down or forming them into a prayer. And it doesn’t matter if we don’t understand who we’re asking; none of us can know that, it’s nice just to imagine our question being sent out to the great mystery that is life.
The second step required to access our intuition is to get quiet and listen, and for some this is difficult. As we are all so rushed and busy, taking periods of time to just stop and let go can seem alien. But it is essential that we make the space in our lives for this quiet time and ideally we will commit to a daily practice. How we get quiet and listen is up to us: we may meditate, have a warm bath, sit quietly and reflect, or go for a walk in nature, but one thing is certain; a daily practice of quiet time will enrich our lives in many ways. Not only will it allow us to tune in to the vast field of intelligence that sits ready and waiting, it will also give us time each day to relax and appreciate the gifts life brings us. I would go as far to say that if we don’t take time for quiet reflection on a regular basis it is not possible to live a deep and meaningful life.
Finally, to receive our inner guidance it is important that we are able to have faith in the greater good that pervades all life. The answers we need will come to us, of that we can be sure, but if we concern ourselves with what those answers will be and when they arrive we will create stress in our bodies and when we are stressed connection to our intuition weakens. Once we sink into a place of deep trust, letting go of any preconceived ideas, the gentle voice will come to us, perhaps in dreams, as an ‘aha’ moment or a gut feeling.
There is one extra step that will help us connect to our inner wisdom, and that, as mentioned earlier, is to take care of our heart. The primary language of intuition is emotion, in other words we receive our inner guidance primarily in the form of feelings, and the more attuned we are to our feelings the easier it will be for us to recognise the messages coming forth. All emotions are valuable providing us with the information we need to make necessary changes to restore balance in our life. For example fear may tell us to move away from a source of danger and anger may help us to set necessary boundaries. Although all emotions are essential, holding onto so-called negative emotions beyond the point that we have recognised their message, can be depleting and stressful for our bodies.
When we process emotions in a healthy way we take on board their teaching and then we let the natural flow of energy carry them away; this is taking care of the heart. If we don’t release emotions in this way they can become stuck and eventually cause physical problems within our body. Being the body’s wellspring when it comes to emotion, the heart’s energies can be particularly disrupted by holding on to negative emotions. The result is a loss of coherence in the energy transmitted from the heart and throughout the whole body. On the other hand, research from the HMI shows that we can initiate a re-patterning of the heart’s electromagnetic field encoding new coherent information by intentionally creating positive emotional states such as joy, gratitude and love. When we do this it will be easier to hear the voice of our inner guidance.
“When we are in a coherent state we have access to our intuition” Heart Math Institute
Cancer’s greatest lesson
As I said at the start of this article cancer is a mind-bending puzzle yet to be solved and that all elusive cure seems as far away as ever, despite the billions of pounds spent trying to find it. One of the primary obstacles to finding a cure is that cancer is highly intelligent and given time will adapt and develop resistance to the blocking effects of a drug. I believe scientists will continue to come up against the problem of cancer’s ability to evade treatment until the situation is addressed differently.
In my mind the only way to stop cancer is to take away its reason for survival. If it wants to live it will always find a way but if it has no reason to live then it can be destroyed. None of us know for sure the reason cancer occurs in our lives, but if, as I suspect, it is here to highlight how far we’ve wandered from the deep intelligent source that’s trying to reach us through our intuition, then reconnecting with our inner wisdom is where we need to focus our energies. This we must do as individuals to help prevent and heal cancer, but it is also something we must do as a society. Right now we are living in a polluted world and our planet is sick, as well as many of the beings that inhabit it. But this wouldn’t be so if as a society we were following our inner guidance, then we would be nurturing the plants, the animals and the people, then we couldn’t help but provide all the love and care they need.
Cancer has lessons for us all, not just those who have been directly affected and if we want to see a solution to this problem then it is time for us to open our minds to a deeper truth. Something is calling us, all of us, and if we continue to refuse to listen we will continue to live a disconnected life where it becomes possible to poison our planet and poison ourselves because we are so cut off from the pain that causes. Love is always the solution and the same is true here; not only is it the most powerful emotion for restoring coherent heart energies and connecting us to our inner wisdom, it is also the core of the message that reaches us through our intuition. It tells us to love our planet and it tells us to love our fellow human beings. But most of all it tells us to love ourselves, because when we do we are once again connected and the complex knot of cancer that’s been impossible to unpick for so long, immediately unravels and vanishes.
- Radical Remission by Kelly Turner, Bravo Ltd, Oct 2015.
- The Cancer Whisperer: How to let cancer heal your life by Sophie Sabbage, Coronet, March 2016.
To hear Liz Butler discussing these and other related ideas, click the link below and listen to her radio interview with Robin Daly (from the charity Yes to Life) on UK Health Radio.