Your Life or Your Pride - What is Cancer *Really*?

Added 1/12: Fantastic article, with lots of practical tips anyone can do: When Cancer Disappears: The Curious Phenomenon of "Unexpected Remission"

Added 5/18: A complete, tried and true program that teaches those with cancer how to become involved in their own healing process

Please contact me if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer and you'd like to receive the list of resources I've generated over the years. (There's way more than the links above and at the bottom, as this page is primarily about the healing path of forgiveness. :)

FYI: My Aunt Judith died on 7/14/01, about a month after I wrote the email below to some close friends....

I'd like to state that this topic is a large one, especially when considered in the spiritual context of "What is the soul/psyche/higher self of someone attempting learn/heal/etc. by presenting that person with a serious illness or disease...?"  Probably, at the level of any particular person, this can only really be answered by a deep and lengthy exploration by that person.  Of course, this process is greatly accelerated and deepened if that person explores it with others, especially with those who have experience assisting clients in exploring it in emotional, psychological and spiritual contexts...and especially in support groups of others who are on the same "cancer journey."   [ I base this last statement upon my professional experience working with coaching clients and emotional counseling clients who have had cancer...and upon my personal experience assisting family members, friends (including a girlfriend who had breast cancer) who were either experiencing cancer themselves, were going through it with a spouse or family member, or both. ]

So, while I can not profess to know what cancer really is, nor to truly know what cancer represents for any particular person, what I've written below is what I believe to be true in general (at this point on my own journey, based on several experiences I've had with those who have had cancer).  I share this here with the hope of giving you a new, empowering perspective from which to view this disease/ that may prevent you from contracting cancer yourself, or may help heal the root cause of it so it doesn't return (should you or someone you know already have a cancer diagnosis).  In each situation I've witnessed, as scary and difficult as the experience was for the person with the cancer diagnosis, I have seen amazing gifts come out of that journey when explored consciously, at the psychological/emotional and spiritual levels.  In some cases, I've heard the person say (and I would agree) that it became one of, if not the best thing that ever happened to them...once they went through the personal transformation and found themselves on the other side of it....

Email to friends on 6/13/01

Hi there,

Just thought I'd share this with you.  My aunt Judith is battling with cancer...for about the 10th time in the last 15 years. She's had more direct personal experience with it than anyone I know.  Anyway, we were talking about just what she thinks cancer "is".  I mean, we all have millions of cancer cells in our bodies all the time, but only in some of us do they take hold, get out of control, become malignant tumors, etc.  So, what is it that either weakens the immune systems of some, or allows the Cancer cells to otherwise somehow take hold in some people, but not in others...?

My aunt reiterated in an email what we discussed at length over the phone: Repressed negative emotions (guilt, anger, grief, etc) that we haven't been willing or able to express fully, "feel to completion", discharge from the body, or otherwise "let go of" somehow fester as negative energy in the body.  Specifically, in my aunt's case, she believes that these emotions are directed at herself...and that to really beat this thing, she needs to forgive and move past the grievances and regrets that she's been carrying for many, many years. In her words:

> I really reiterate that I am thinking that forgiveness is the key. First of all, when we don't forgive, we are keeeping it personal, and keeping it
>in memory -- holding ------ all hanging on, hanging, making nice little nests where I think the disease takes root, incubates and grows.

So, if this is making sense to you, then the logical next step seems to be: Sit down and decide who or what (in yourself or others) that you hold the greatest negative emotions for. (Ie, who or what has hurt you the deepest?  What have you done, from the beginning of your life till now, that you consider most "unforgiveable"?  What has someone else done, from the beginning of your life till now, that you consider most "unforgiveable"?)  Then, do whatever it takes to release the negative emotions that you're holding and forgive.

"3 Roads of Forgiveness to Mend My Life," according to Frost:
1) Forgive those who've done us harm
2) Forgive others who've harmed
3) Forgive ourselves

Something that has worked for me is to do something nice for the person (or part of myself) that has hurt me, that I'm angry with, etc.  (Granted, I usually don't *feel* like I had forgiven or, sometimes, that I'm even capable of forgiving--nor that, by any stretch of the imagination does that person deserve this--but when I perform the kind/generous act, something loosens, I feel better, and I can get to forgiveness much faster.)  If for no other reason, do it FOR YOURSELF and your future health and well being.  It'll make you feel better now...and it may well save you from cancer or some other dis-ease that might manifest if you continue to hold onto it.

Forgiveness could be defined as "giving up all hope for a better yesterday."
Letting go of my need to have someone else behave differently for me to be OK.
Forgiveness is not reconciliation, condoning, letting the other person 'get away with something'.
It's not about them at all. Forgiveness is for me.
~ Chip August, Human Awareness Institute

If your belief system says that this CAN'T be true, are you willing to risk getting cancer or some other serious disease to hold onto your beliefs?  Regardless, is there really anything bad that could come of your forgiving yourself or another?  Are you willing to bet your life on it??  Or, from a completely different angle, are you interested in seeing who you might become were you able to step into this type of vibration:

(Here's a fantastic resource and community for this sort of work.  It's one of the best things I'm doing for myself--and for all those with whom I interact: )

My aunt also spoke of Nelson Mandela and how she wanted to learn more about him and his methods of forgiveness.  I did some poking around on the web and found an article about him, entitled "Forgiveness: The Mandela Principle" (, in which it sez:

"Think of the deepest hurt you have ever received at the hands of another person; think of the cruelest insult, the most vicious slander, the most embarrassing put down. Now, put that 'Unforgivable' moment which is burned into your memory up against being placed in prison [and being horribly mistreated/tortured/put in isolation/etc], for most of your adult life [27 years], simply for demanding your freedom and the freedom of your people."

"Mandela has been able to forgive that injustice which victimized him; what does it take to forgive the injustices by which we are made victims? To forgive is to say to the person by whom you have been wronged, 'You have done me wrong! You have done something that is hurtful to me, and because of what you have done, my personal pride tells me that I should turn my back on you. I will carry the memory of what you have done with me. I will not forget it but I refuse to let what you have done stand between us. I refuse to allow it to create a permanent barrier between us. I still want you in my life.'"

Related Links...

"It's our responsibility to teach others how to love us."  ~ Judith Raffals Artoux

[ This was my aunt's response to my questions to her on her death bed, "What's the most important thing you've learned in your life? What wisdom do you want me to keep alive for you?"  I've spent years contemplating and integrating the implications of her words.  One of those is that if someone doesn't treat me the way I want or feel I need, then that's on me for not effectively teaching them how to love me.  The first step, then, is to own this and forgive them.   Then, probably using something like NVC (Non-Violent Communicaton), I can go back from a non-reactive place, and inform them on what I want/need in this particular situation, etc. and the relationship can actually evolve (rather than stagnate or be damaged by lingering bitterness/resentment borne from my blaming them for my upset). ]


PS:  Some of you know that I had to forgive my aunt to even call her.  (To be honest, it took me a couple weeks and some coaching to get there.)  Had I not gotten to forgiveness with her, however, we'd not have had this conversation, exchanged further emails about it, nor would this be here for you to read.  What gifts await you and your community on the other side of forgiveness...?