In developing an effective visualization, one must consider a number of qualities, especially a positive image. In Imagery of Cancer, Achterberg and Lawlis state: “The symbols of positive connotation are those representing strength and purity; powerful enough to subdue an enemy–pure enough to do so with justification. Such images are frequently knights or . . . Vikings– heroes only slightly removed in time and place from the white knights. The knight is an archaic symbol from fairy tales in which most of us have a common exposure.”
A second quality of the visualization that I have found to be essential is that it must be ego-syntonic; that is, it must conform with the person’s deepest desires and values. An excellent illustration of this point comes from a young woman who consulted me when I was giving a lecture in Phoenix, Arizona. She had a cancer growing against her cervical spine, pressing against the spinal cord. This was causing gradual loss of the use of her arm and immobility of her head and neck. It was growing in spite of medical treatment and also in spite of a program of biofeedback and visualization which she was following faithfully and in which she had invested effort and positive expectation. She was following a sound nutritional plan, exercising, doing everything she could to increase her health. In spite of all these things, her condition had deteriorated to the point where her physician had told her that she should prepare a will and prepare for the care of her two young daughters. She had been given only a few months to live.
She told me that her visualization just didn’t seem to be working, and she wasn’t sure why. She was visualizing her cancer as a dragon and her immune system as white knights attacking the dragon, but the knights never really seemed to be effective.
I asked her to draw a picture of her imagery. She drew a picture of white knights and a dragon that seemed pretty ordinary to me, but when she looked at her own drawing, she gasped and said, “Oh, my God, that’s my husband.” Her eyes filled with tears, and she said, “I can’t kill my husband.”
Her story unfolded. She was separated from her husband, an alcoholic who abused her and her daughters when he was drunk. She had been forced to leave him. She believed that the strain, tension, and sorrow of this situation, as well as the ensuing loss of the relationship, were the precipitating causes of her cancer. In other words, she believed that her husband was the dragon on her back.
In this case, only a simple reframing of her visualization was necessary. When she said that she could not kill her husband, I responded that it was not her husband that she needed to be rid of but rather the qualities and events that had caused her pain. It was the drunkenness and the abuse that needed to be symbolically eliminated.
If by means of this imagery she could eliminate these qualities from her husband, he would not only be unharmed, but he would be better off. And she could at least get these painful occurrences off her back, since they were the dragons she needed to release. Her eyes lit up at this suggestion, and she exclaimed enthusiastically, “Oh, the abuse, I can really kill the abuse.”
The next time I saw her was a year later when I ret turned to the same annual conference in Phoenix to present a workshop. She told me that with this new perspective on her visualization, she had been able to put everything she had into it, and soon her tumor began to melt away. She was now in complete remission. She told this story to the workshop attendees, adding much to their experience and helping to make this point memorable: the visualization must be something that you are willing to do.
There are frequent variations on this theme among patients, the most common being that if their white cells are good, they can’t kill or do harm. Patients also frequently identify in some way with their cancerous cells. It is essential not to simply ignore such issues. The patient must be helped to resolve them in a satisfactory way.
Tommy is another champion. When Tommy and I began his psychophysiologic therapy, he was eleven and one half years old and had stage IVB Hodgkin’s Disease. He had been diagnosed and staged the first time when he was nine years old. At that time Tommy’s disease was IA, the least serious stage of Hodgkin’s. As treatment progressed, Tommy’s disease also progressed, to stage IVB. He had not responded to chemotherapy so far, and life was becoming pretty tough for him.
The time I first met him, Tommy had begun to try to solve his very great problems by setting fires and other acting-out behavior. He was referred by David Berland, M.D., a child psychiatrist who was seeing Tommy and his family for formal family therapy.
Tommy had already been through much agony, including laparectomies, radiation and chemotherapy, pneumonia, chicken pox, and shingles. He had also had his spleen and appendix removed. He hated needles and injections, of which he had a great many. Now he was contemplating another course of treatment, a “sandwich” of chemotherapy, radiation, and chemotherapy. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go through with it all, and in some ways he wanted to “burn his world down” instead.
The week Tommy was referred to me, Garrett was on a panel with Dr. Jerry Jampolsky and children who had recovered or were recovering from cancer. Jerry talked about the Center for Attitudinal Healing telephone network, and Garrett also told about his own hotline in Topeka. When the program was over, I saw Tommy go up to the front and speak with Garrett for a few minutes, and I assumed that he was asking Garrett for the hotline telephone number. A couple of weeks later, I asked Garrett if Tommy had called him and he said no, that Tommy had asked him for his autograph! I thought this strange at first, but later I realized the significance of it. Tommy considered Garrett a role model.
From the very beginning, Tommy worked intensely on all of the self-regulation skills. Since he was going through so much when we started, the first thing I showed him was the breathing exercises, believing they would help him get through the initial rough times more quickly than anything else. The second time he came, he sat down in the chair and immediately began the deep, calm, slow breathing so effectively that it was clear he had been practicing and practicing. He attended to everything earnestly and with the greatest concentration and seriousness.
Like Garrett, Tommy had to come to grips with whether he wanted to live or die. For him, the struggle took place on a more symbolic level. He identified with his cancer cells and felt they were being “scapegoated” and were trying to protect themselves. The drawings he made during the course of his therapy, especially following visualization sessions, were very revealing and useful to both of us in uncovering a number of unconscious attitudes. At one point, he imaged his cancer cells as hiding behind a lead shield that had been made to protect his liver during radiation treatments. He said, “They are just trying to survive like everybody else.”
Tommy now explains that his belief that the cancer cells were hiding was reinforced by the fact that the cancer had always come back or had never been completely eliminated in the previous treatments. Eventually, he was able to realize that his cancer cells were on a self-destructive course and could not survive no matter what; the only question was whether or not they would destroy Tommy in the process.
Tommy was as intent as he could be on getting well, and he faithfully followed all the instructions and guidelines. He learned to like salads, grains, and vegetables, and reduced his intake of meat, sugar, and fried foods. He became very good at the self-regulation skills and enjoyed working with the biofeedback equipment as a result of the control he could demonstrate. He used these skills in a number of ways: to relax, to enhance his performance in sports, and to enhance his visualizations. And as was the case with Garrett, his parents were very supportive of all the things he was doing to heal himself. Although there was much stress, Tommy and his family confronted problems with love and openness.
As treatment progressed, a number of experiences served to build Tommy’s confidence. Although previously he had hated his treatments and often resisted the chemotherapy through fighting and fear, he now used his newfound relaxation and imagery skills to remain calm. He became a model patient and was very pleased that he could handle things so well. He visualized the treatment as “coming into the neighborhood of his body like the army or the national guard, ready to mop up all the trouble makers.” He became a great deal more serene. Although he had missed a lot of school in the beginning of the year, he managed to get caught up with his work and was justifiably proud of that.
Things were going much better for Tommy by the time the radiation phase of his treatment was to begin. He was looking forward to it with happy anticipation. During the chemotherapy, he had been wearing a heparin lock (a small shunt inserted into his vein and taped securely, holding the vein open for the repeated injections he would need) and could hardly wait to have it removed. He was an active and macho kid, and he was anxious to play football and engage in the rough and tumble play of his age group without always having to be careful of the shunt in his forearm.
So he was extremely disappointed to be told that the radiation would make him quite sick, that he would vomit and have diarrhea, and that he should eat meat and cheese and avoid vegetables and fruit. His mother told me that he was very upset. I decided to call Carl Simonton to see what he might suggest.
Carl said that the reaction that had been described was at one end of a continuum of reactions to full-body radiation. Responses can range from almost no adverse reaction at all to the kind of reaction that had been described to Tommy. He suggested that since Tommy was good at self regulation, he could just observe his body objectively, like a scientist, to see what his own reaction would be. Then, if he wanted to modify his reactions, he could work on them like he was working on all the other things he had been doing. As for his diet, the foods suggested were binding and would help if he had a lot of diarrhea Otherwise, he could eat as he had been, and all the better for him.
Tommy was reassured to hear this and delighted to think that I had called Dr. Simonton on his behalf. These suggestions made sense to him because he had been able to tolerate the chemotherapy so much better this time, experiencing few adverse side effects. He knew that this was because of the control he was exercising within himself.
Before the radiation could be undertaken, a shield had to be made to protect his liver. When the shield was completed, there was a picture-taking session to assure that the liver was completely covered by the shield. Tommy thought that this process was actually his first radiation treatment. When it was finished, he told his Dad that it wasn’t bad at all. His Dad replied that it was no wonder, since they were just taking pictures to be sure his liver was completely covered. About half an hour later, on the way home, Tom remarked to his father, “It’s a good thing you told me they were only taking pictures, because otherwise I’d be getting sick about now.” Then he smiled, chagrined, realizing the power of his mind in that a negative placebo was causing that queasy feeling until he remembered that he had not had radiation.
This was an important realization. After that, he sailed through the radiation with few adverse side effects. He did play football and other sports, and he did eat whatever he wanted to, including his good nutritional diet, without discomfort.
During the next phase of chemotherapy, he continued to do well and feel better. His imagery was becoming powerful, and his confidence was growing all the time. He was doing fine in school and at home, and he was doing very well with his self-regulation and his visualizations. He decided to visualize growing hair every day, and his hair began to get thick and curly again.
In May 1981, just before school let out, the course of treatment was completed, and he went to the hospital for re-staging. The plan had been to do another laparectomy, a procedure of opening an incision from collar bone to groin to visually inspect and biopsy the lymph nodes and other tissues on one side of the body. He had already had three of these procedures, which he called his zippers. This time, he did not want that test, and his parents backed him up. The medical team then decided that they might be able to do a needle biopsy of his liver, although he was much younger than patients usually considered suitable. He would need to be awake for the procedure and fully cooperative, holding his breath when told to do so, even though there would be some pain with the procedure. Tommy thought he could do it, and because he had been doing so well during his other treatments, the staff agreed.
He came through the biopsy with flying colors. After the procedure, the doctors told him he behaved better than most adult patients. The results of the liver biopsy revealed no abnormalities. The next day he had a CT scan of his chest, abdomen, and pelvic area, with no evidence of the disease. He was in complete remission.
Now, four years later, Tommy is still in remission and has just completed a physical examination giving him a clean bill of health.
When I finished sharing with Tommy the text I had written about him for the book, he added the following comment. He said that at first he had rebelled so much against the treatments, but after understanding something about voluntary control, he stopped struggling and just let everything happen. He said,
One thing I don’t think they put enough emphasis on is the need for understanding and the importance of helping a patient release the anger. I believe the mind is what cured me, but anger swelled up in me from my cancer, and all the effort was on making me physically better. There was no relief from the anger. It was, “Well, we have to help you live!” It’s harder for a young kid to have a clear concept of what you’re doing with the chemotherapy. In biofeedback I knew what we were doing to get the mind over the cancer. It was a painful but growing experience. Now I think in terms of living a lifetime.
Another important attribute of the visualization is that it be felt to be taking place inside the body. In other words, the imagery must be kinesthetic and sensory as well as visual. Although Garrett’s imagery was a battle in outer space, he felt and visualized it taking place inside his head, literally as well as figuratively. The internalization of the imagery must take place, and usually this is accomplished fairly easily by the first “guided imagery” trips through the body. Occasionally people are unwilling or afraid to look inside. If possible, they must be helped to do so, and various techniques, similar to those used in systematic desensitization, can be employed.
Warts: Demonstration of the Need for Anatomical Accuracy in Visualization
A frequently-asked question is whether the visualization needs to be accurate. As has already been demonstrated, the visualization can be completely symbolic. In fact, often when a patient tries to be biologically accurate and tries to know exactly what is going on from a scientific and technical point of view, he only becomes frustrated. Nevertheless, it seems that the visualization does have to be anatomically correct.
I would dike to illustrate this with an experience in self-healing of my own. A few years ago, I was bothered by a callous-like growth on the bottom of my foot. I thought it was a corn. I remember being bothered with it at Thanksgiving and at Christmas and later at some spring conferences that I attended. I remember these times specifically, because I had to take this corn into account and bring corn plasters and protective pads with me.
My foot was becoming more and more painful. I even tried to use solutions that are supposed to dissolve corns, and several times I went after it with clippers. Of course, I was also using visualization, seeing the skin growing smooth and firm beneath the corn, and also simply seeing it drying up and falling off. All of this was to no avail.
As it continued to grow, it finally reached the point where it was affecting the way I walked. Due to pain messages reaching the spinal reflex arc, I was as helpless to stop this as to prevent the knee jerk reflex that occurs when the right spot is hit with a hammer. So, by the following summer I had decided that I had better have it surgically removed, since my visualizations and my ministrations were not working, and I could not afford to risk my knee.
At the swimming pool one day, I was telling Rusty Kellogg, a physician friend visiting from New York, that I was unable to eliminate the corn on my foot and would probably have to have it surgically removed. Rusty asked to see it and said, “That’s not a corn, it’s a planter wart.” I had heard vaguely of such a thing, although I thought it was called a “planter’s wart,” and was something that farmers got if they walked barefoot in their fields.
Rusty explained that a planter wart is caused by a virus, is highly vascularized, and is shaped something like an upside-down octopus, sending long tentacles up along the blood vessels. He said that they are very difficult to remove surgically and are hard to treat. I am sure he thought he was giving me bad news, but since I had been doing this work for some time and had seen what Garrett and others have been able to do, I thought, “Virus, vascularizedÑ good, then I can get it with my white cells.”
I was somewhat astonished myself with the rapidity of the results. In less than a week, it began to deteriorate and come apart. I discovered that at the outer end, this wart is built like a thick cable of packed wires, and now some of the fibers were coming loose and beginning to extrude.
I made the mistake of pulling on one of these. It was about three inches long and came out slowly, seeming to rip away from other tissues all the way. It hurt, but I couldn’t stop because I didn’t feel I wanted to cut if off, and also I didn’t want to just leave it there. When it finally all came out, it bled quite a bit for a little while. Within two weeks the wart was completely gone, and it has never come back.
There are mysteries here that are not yet answered. During the entire time that this planter wart was growing, I had an excellent immune system. I did not have a single episode of cold or flu. Why did my immune system ignore the wart during all that time? And why did it attack the wart as soon as I directed its attention to it?
Warts have interested many physicians. Lewis Thomas, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has written a whole chapter on warts and their mysterious behavior in his book, The Medusa and the Snail. He notes that warts, the elaborate reproductive apparatus of a virus, can be removed by “something that can only be called thinking, or something like thinking. This is a special property of warts which is absolutely astonishing, more of a surprise than cloning or recombinant DNA or endorphin or acupuncture or anything else currently attracting attention in the press.” This process may seem astonishing and certainly is of that magnitude of importance, but surely the attribution must be made that it is a special property of thinking that has caused the warts to go away, not a special property of warts.
Physicians often believe that visualization cannot work since the visualizer would have to know all the immune responses. Which lymphocytes in which combinations of killer cells and supressor cells, B cells and T cells, would be needed? How could the unconscious figure out all the mechanisms needed? Very frequently, patients also initially believe that they need to understand exactly how to direct their immune system in order to do it successfully.
The unconscious is a master at figuring out all sorts of complex relationships and mechanisms, as can be attested by its rapid generation of the myriad physiologic responses throughout all the systems of the body that we call the “flight or fight” response when it perceives threat. The very same physiologic responses are generated by the unimagined threat; the lower brain centers cannot tell the difference between a perception and an image but only respond to the amount of affect connected to either. Andrew Weil also has devoted an entire chapter to warts in his book Holistic Health He describes dramatic cures of warts in response to all sorts of treatments, none of which has anything in common except a belief that they will work. Weil states:
It is revealing of the limitations of materialistic science that no serious research exists on wart cures in response to treatments based on belief. I can think of few medical phenomena more deserving of study. When a wart that has persisted for months or years falls off within hours of being rubbed by a cut potato, the cure may look miraculous, but it is not mystical Some analyzable, physical mechanism must underlie the event, one that uses familiar body components such as nerves and blood land lymphocytes] It would be valuable to identify and understand that mechanism, because it is so powerful, precise, and efficient, . . . Think of the possibility of directing that mechanism against malignant tumors or obstructions in coronary arteries or calcium deposits in joints! The prevalence of wart cures argues that the mechanism exists in everyone. Clearly, the switch that turns it on is located in the mind!
And finally, before leaving the subject of warts entirely, there is this: a memo received in February 1974 from a colleague.
I thought you and your colleagues would want to hear the true story of my next door neighbor. . . and his warts, as related to me by his mother… Last summer, five-year-old M went to his family doctor for some minor surgery. Once the doctor had M anesthetized, he suggested to (his mother) that he remove the warts from his hand, warts that had caused a lot of embarrassment. She approved the idea, as did M its realization once he came to.
Well, a month or so later M was angry to find warts coming back at him. He and his mother consulted the doctor, who advised them to watch and wait.
Around this time, his mother read an article about imagery and healing and told M about the Porter boy’s [Garrett’s! success against his brain tumor. M listened closely, and decided that he too would imagine his body as having Pac Men at its disposal–to send in to gobble up the warts.
Off and on during the next three weeks, his mother would catch him staring into space abstractedly. When she asked him what he was doing, he would say he was thinking about his Pac Men. At the end of the three weeks, the warts were gone–never to return (at least not so far). “I thunk them away” is the way M accounted for their departure.
Constancy: Another Key to Successful Visualizaton
A partial explanation for the rapidity of this response brings me to the next condition for effective visualization, and that is constancy. In getting rid of my own wart, I started by visualizing white cells streaming down my leg, attacking and vanquishing all the wart cells and viruses. Because my foot was hurting quite a bit when I walked on it, I developed a “quickie” visualization of “hurt–squirt! hurt–squirt! hurt–squirt!,” seeing white cells rushing down to the wart with every step. This is also a very beneficial way to utilize pain.
Jack Schwartz is a western yogi from Holland who now teaches and counsels in the United States. He has described pain as one of the best friends of the body, a friend who must be recognized and respected as such. It prevents us from sitting on a hot radiator, or continuing to hold something hot in our hand; it also prevents us from ignoring some interior condition that needs attention. In other words, it is an alarm that warns us to take action. Like the alarm clock that awakens us in the morning, we are grateful to it for the reminder, but need not let it ring all day. Once we have taken notice, we shut off the alarm.
Of course, there are some relentless and unremitting pains that are not easily shut off, but a good portion of almost any pain is fear, tension and resistance to feeling our feelings. The more we tense against and resist pain, the more it clamors for recognition. We get caught up in a vicious circle.
There are many excellent techniques for working with pain including holding, literally or in consciousness, the affected part, feeling it, caring for it, “melting into” the pain, expanding it (like a gas, so that it becomes more and more tenuous!, transforming it to another sensation like warmth or tingling, and so on.
The bottom line, or most significant useful way of dealing with pain in cancer or other disease processes, is to first respect it for its function. I encourage patients who are doing visualization to greet the pain with a thought like, “Thank you, body, for reminding me to do my visualization again.” As described, the visualization includes bringing blood flow into the area, breathing deeply and imagining breathing right into the area of pain, along with visualization of the immune system attacking the cancer.
Fear and anxiety can be handled in the same way. Cancer patients very frequently fear every discomfort and pain as a possible sign that there is new cancer growing. This technique of thanking the body for its request for help and then sending blood flow, vigilant white cells, and all the body’s natural healing resources to the area, is helpful in decreasing these fears, too. It is the opposite of denial. If the pain persists, the patient is encouraged to follow up with a call to their physician or to ask about it in the next office visit. This helps to mitigate against new symptoms being repressed or denied out of fear.
I also encourage patients to employ a sort of “constant instant practice” as we do in instructing people in the acquisition of any self-regulation skill. Every time you come to a stop sign, every time you pick up or hang up the phone, and whenever your mind can think of it, visualize your immune system doing its job, kinesthetically, inside the body. This can be done briefly and in the same way as kinesthetically visualizing yourself serving a tennis ball, or touching your toes, or any other familiar activity. With the mind’s eye, see what you want to have happen happening; feel it happening inside your body.
One further device was to elicit the continuing support of Garrett’s “unconscious” in combating the tumor when he was not actively doing his visualization. I explained to him on several occasions that just as his blood continued to circulate, his heart to beat, and his digestion to go on without his conscious intervention, so could his immune system continue to battle his tumor, with the while cells continuing to stream to his tumor site even when he wasn’t thinking about it and wasn’t doing the visualization. During therapy sessions we often did the visualization together as a dialogue. At these times, he gave much free play to his imagery, and we were able to handle unconscious messages as they emerged.
Intention. A Blueprint for Successful Visualization
It is important to see your goal met, the tumor or cancer cells destroyed, and the healing accomplished, every time you do the visualization. This represents your intention and provides a blueprint for your body to follow. Just as a blueprint for a house is real even before the foundation is dug, so this blueprint is a real description of the plan for the body, even though it takes some time for the body to heal. It may be that an image of the present condition will pop back into your mental picture as soon as this visualization is completed. That is perfectly natural; simply see the process through to completion the next time you do the visualization.
Garrett practiced one or another of his visualizations at least once daily. During these visualizations, he was encouraged to continue the sequence until he saw the tumor as completely destroyed. He understood the visualization was like a blueprint. Although the tumor would not be completely destroyed in one session, it established the intent just as an architect’s blueprint establishes the intent of the kind of house that is to be built. The blueprint is true, as an intention, even before the foundation is laid. In the same way, he visualized both the process and the final outcome desired each time he did his visualization.
When medical treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation is being given, visualizing it as being powerful and effective is of the utmost importance. Patients often have an ambivalent attitude–almost a love-hate relationship–with their treatment. The unconscious dichotomous attitude is “I must have this to live” and “This is killing me.”
The way in which people visualize their treatment, as well as the images, conscious and unconscious, that they have of the treatment, is a major factor in how their bodies will respond to the treatment. Uncovering unconscious attitudes of fear and distrust of the treatment, and dealing with them, is essential. We are always imaging what we are doing and going to do, and visualizing outcomes, so it is not a question of IF we will image but only of what and how, and of making it a part of conscious self-regulation rather than something that is happening willy-nilly, for better or for worse.
The Importance of a Positive Attitude
A positive attitude toward treatment, feeling it as a true helper to the body’s well-being, even if temporarily it is very tough, is very important. To patients, I have likened the treatment to inviting a police SWAT team or a national guard crack team into the neighborhood to help put down trouble. They don’t come to stay, but their help when needed is indispensable. The treatments are the most powerful agents that medical science has to offer against their particular type of cancer. Although the treatments may be tough on the whole system, the healthy cells are strong and resilient and can resist harm and repair themselves, whereas the cancer cells are weak and confused and cannot survive.
It is very helpful to use a positive visualization of the treatment and its outcome while receiving it. Good suggestions for this include emotional preparation beforehand, perhaps bringing favorite music to the treatment and playing it during the treatment. During the treatment itself, welcome the radiation or the chemicals into the body as a powerful helper. Again, the best visualizations are those that patients develop themselves, but I have found that in general patients need more help with this, probably because the treatment is not an internal process and therefore is not “known” to the unconscious parts of the brain.
Develop Specific Visualizations for SpecificUses
For radiation treatments, a good suggestion is to visualize the rays coming into the body like shining bursts of energy that demolish the weak cancer cells; all the healthy cells can be seen as mirrors, resisting damage and reflecting the radiation directly onto the tumor. For chemotherapy, golden bullets that are directed against the cancer cells, surging into the blood stream, make a good image. The treatment is an important ally to the white cells, and their partnership can be visualized.
It is interesting that the best imagery for the immune system consists of powerful beings of some sort, whether human or animal, that possess conscious intentionality and are responsive to direction. The Simontons, Achterberg and Lawlis, and I have found that inanimate imagery such as giant hoses or vacuum cleaners is not as powerful. However, I have not encountered imagery of the treatment being represented as living beings, in spite of my comparing the treatment to a police SWAT team in a neighborhood, either in the literature or in my patients. One can speculate quite reasonably that this is because the white cells are alive and responsive, and the treatment is not.
Visualizing the chemotherapy as potent and working with it in the body potentiates its action, adding all the biological effects of belief and expectation to its other effects. This also helps decrease the adverse side effects that arise from resistance to the medication. Imagery and visualization of the chemotherapy also increase inner awareness of the drug/body interaction and of the build-up of chemical action in the body.
One patient who was an excellent visualizer illustrates this point. Leonard embarked on a total holistic health program when he was diagnosed with Stage IIB Hodgkins Disease. This approach fit very well with his interests and values. After a trip to M.D. Anderson Hospital for a second opinion, he opted for chemotherapy and psychophysiological therapy and began both treatments at the same time. He began a whole health routine which included yoga and other regular exercise for approximately an hour every morning, high nutrition, and meditation as well.
He was a good visualizer and became very sensitive to receiving messages from his unconscious body/mind. He visualized his immune system and his chemotherapy working together in partnership. He did very well with this combination and very well with his chemotherapy. Then at one point after several months of chemotherapy treatment, he began to feel that his body was saturated with the chemotherapy drugs, and the balance between it and his immune system was not being maintained. He decided to stop chemotherapy for the time being, not because he didn’t want its aid in his system, but because he could tell he had more than enough of it in his system.
Leonard continued to visit his oncologist, who wished he would continue the treatments but was willing to be supportive of his decision to stop chemotherapy. Now, a year and one-half later, he is still in remission. Leonard and his oncologist have continued to work together as a team to keep him well, and he has taken responsibility for his own body through having regular check-ups and following his health program faithfully.
At times, with small children and also with older children and adults who are very concrete in their thinking, it is possible to use props on which people can focus their visualization. A beautiful example of this comes from the work of Leslie Salov, an opthalmologist and founder of the Vision and Health Center in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Sara was four and one-half years old when Dr. Salov worked with her. She had five blood angiomas behind her left eyeball, and attempts at conventional medical treatment had proved unsuccessful. It was decided that the best course of action would be to wait until the eye was pushed out of its socket, then to clean out and heal the orbit, and provide her with a glass eye. When Dr. Salov first saw her, Sara’s eye was protruding by three-quarters of a centimeter.
After explaining clearly in her terms what was happening to her eye, he asked her to draw it, and she made a picture of her face, the five tumors, and a heart, on which she had inscribed “love, Sara.” He next told her that each day her mother would give her a syringe filled with red colored water and a pail, and he instructed her to squeeze the red water out of the syringe while looking at her picture and imaging her tumors getting smaller just as the syringe was doing. When he asked her to explain the process back to him, her description included the phrase that she would see herself squeezing out the liquid and see the syringe getting smaller “just like those bags of blood behind my eyes are going to do.” Her use of this phrase made him sure she understood what to do.
The rest of the treatment consisted of nutritional changes and the use of color, as he instructed her parents to surround her with the color blue. In less than two months, her eye was restored to its normal position, and the tumors were gone.