This article was first published on the national opinion website, Online Opinion.
Today, 4 February, many countries are coming together on World Cancer Day to fight cancer by dispelling the four major myths about it.
The official website of the World Cancer Day Advisory Group states that cancer is not just a health issue but has wide-reaching social, economic, development, and human rights implications.
It is not a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries but is a global epidemic, affecting all ages and socio-economic groups, with developing countries bearing a disproportionate burden.
Cancer is no longer a death sentence, with many cancers that were once considered so now able to be cured, and for many more people their cancer can be treated effectively.
And finally, cancer should not be considered our fate, and is very often preventable.
Congratulations and our thanks go to the recipient of the Australian of the Year award, Ita Buttrose. She now works tirelessly as a health awareness champion in the area of ageing as well as raising awareness of ways to beat breast cancer and prostate cancer.
In her acceptance speech, she emphasised the importance of “greater investment in medical research and in the way Australia practises and decides funding for our medical community and researchers”.
The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has awarded more than $86 million ($60 million in just the last seven years) to world-class Australian research initiatives. It’s very likely that the spending will increase as our nation puts health closer to the top of our priority list.
While the bulk of grants are dedicated to funding research in Australia that has the power to make significant breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis and treatment, there are small pockets of researchers connecting the dots to gaining more of an understanding of the importance of our thoughts on our health and wellbeing.
Leading medical researcher in this field, Dr Harold Koenig, in his review of research on religion, spirituality and health from the late 1800’s to 2010, Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications published in ISRN Psychiatry, reports that of the 20 methodologically most rigorous studies on the relationship between religion, spirituality and either the onset or the outcome of cancer (including cancer mortality) 12 found a lower risk or better outcomes.
In Adelaide this coming July, medical and mental health professionals, ethicists, and researchers will come together at the Compassion, Spirituality & Health Conference to examine the relationship between spirituality (love, giving and happiness and the impact of compassionate care) on health outcomes.
At past conferences, accounts were given by doctors and patients of the health-giving effects of treatment that embraces the ‘whole-person’, including recovery from cancers. It seems medical practitioners and researchers would benefit from examining other models that consider the primary importance of our thought, rather than being totally focussed on treating or researching just the physiological aspects of disease.
Belief of the singular importance of a biomedical focus may well be another myth that needs to be dispelled.
Anita Moorjani learned in a unique way that it was not her fate to be always stressed and fearful, or to have a terminal illness. In her recently published book, Dying to be Me: My Journey From Cancer To Near Death, To True Healing, she tells how for four years she fought stage IV lymphoma cancer, which led to her near-death. While in what was thought to be an end-of-life coma she received profound knowledge about her life, mission and purpose. Upon regaining consciousness, she knew that her body would be quickly healed of cancerous tumours. And so it was, as she was released from the hospital within weeks, without a trace of cancer in her body.
Moorjani now believes that her cancer manifested in her physical body due to the fear of being herself, displeasing others, not measuring up to their expectations and the fear of living life to the fullest. People healed of fatal diseases often have similar stories to tell.
“Only when I realized my own magnificence, my own perfection, my own self worth as a beautiful child of the universe, was I able to let go of fear and embrace life with all its uncertainties, ambiguities, joys, sorrows, and challenges,” she said. In her book, Anita Moorjani speaks about her now enduring realisation of ‘the God-force within’.
Jesus Christ shared the same health-giving observation around 2000 year ago in these words: “The kingdom of God is within you” …. within our consciousness.
It’s my belief that we don’t have to wait for a near-death event to gain that feeling of peace, confidence, love and ensuing good health more regularly throughout our days. Maybe you’d agree that inspiration comes in many different ways – from a movie, from the peace and empowerment we get from walking in nature or through prayerful affirmations of our likeness to the divine consciousness or Mind. This is health-giving inspiration worth seeking out.
The World Cancer Day website confirms, we should never think that we deserve to suffer an unjust sentence like cancer – it’s neither our fate nor habitually a death sentence these days. It’s a relief to know that all our human resources are being drawn together to eradicate cancer and its effects on all people.
While it’s heart warming to hear accounts by so many people of how grateful they are for the loving support of medical staff and the excellent cancer treatment they’ve received, such experiences as Moorjani’s suggest that our fate may just be the eventual realisation of this ‘kingdom of God’ within … a state of consciousness that feels embraced in love and is naturally healthy.
To say that this realisation can, here and now, have a significant impact on our health and happiness may be an understatement.