“Even if your hands are shaking, And your faith is broken, Even as the eyes are closing, Do it with a heart wide open, Say what you need to say.” ~John Mayer
So we’ve established a connection between emotions and illness— but can emotions be a predictor of cancer?
According to Bernie Segal, a cancer doctor and surgeon for over 40 years, the answer is yes. The connection is so strong that a psychological questionnaire is often a better predictor of cancer than a physician’s physical exam!
Let’s first take a look at the biology of cancer. It is well understood that oncogenes play a role in cancer. An oncogene is a gene that contributes to converting a normal cell into a cancer cell. If these genes were the only predictor of cancer, patients would develop tumors throughout the body simultaneously—but this is not the case! There is usually one area that has psychological significance to the patient where cancer forms. This is called the target organ (Love, Medicine, and Miracles pg. 90).
The link between cancer and emotions has been known since 1926 when Elida Evans did the Psychological Study of Cancer and found emotional loss—is—a—predictor—of— cancer!
More recently, Marjorie and Claus Bahnson developed a questionnaire that is 88% accurate in assessing for cancer and another researcher was able to pick out malignancies based on patients' perceived hopelessness and recent emotional loss.
Doesn’t this all sound familiar? Isn’t this very similar to the question of why don’t we get sick all the time if we are constantly exposed to germs? What’s causing us to be more susceptible to illness than at other times?
It’s because our thinking strongly influences our biology! Did you know it’s possible for a person under anesthesia, to change her heartbeat from 130 beats per minute to 85 beats per minute on command!!!
What’s so wonderful about these revelations—mind over body—is that it has led many people to survive what is deemed a terminal illness! Dr. Bernie Segal understood this mind-body connection so well that he formed ECaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients) to provide a therapeutic environment to confront the psychological issues most cancer patients face. This support group often led to personal change, healing and hope.
These patients had to do the dirty work. They rolled up their sleeves, looked at the unhealthy patterns in their life, and changed them. Sometimes it meant leaving a spouse, changing careers, or voicing their concerns to family—but it saved their life.
They didn’t rely on something or someone outside of them to “fix” them. They took responsibility for their emotions and how they influenced their body. They listened to their bodies.
Doctors can minimize discomfort and cover up wounds— but what people need most is hope—to give us the confidence to go within—the place of true healing.