One of the great mysteries in medicine is the phenomenon of spontaneous remission in chronic illness, particularly in cancer. This week the American Cancer Society and Yahoo are presenting a series of blogs on people's struggles with cancer. I will be posting a case report on one such case specifically a woman with breast cancer who had a remission lasting several years.
I will post the same case report on this blog entitled ELEANOR'S STORY. Spontaneous remission is a rare but spectacular phenomena. The cancer disappears spontaneously and there is still no adequate scientific explanation that satisfies physicians completely. When I was a medical student, spontaneous remissions were known as "miracle cures." I personally do not like the term because a miracle camouflages our ignorance of what is really happening. When we do not have an explanation for something, we call it a miracle. When we have explanation for the same phenomenon, we call it science. Yesterday's "miracles" are today's science and today's miracles will be tomorrow's science.
Almost a decade ago, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who walked on the moon, published a monograph entitled "Spontaneous Remission" -- an annotated bibliography. This bibliography details case histories and review articles of scientifically documented remissions in over 3600 cases. The cancers include every system in the body including GI cancers, cancers of the respiratory tract, breast cancer, neuroblastoma, genitourinary cancers, and lymphatic and blood cancers. There is a fascinating section on infection-related remissions and behavior-related remissions. Since then we have learned a lot about remission. Essentially remission is based on our understanding of the science of self-repair. Our bodies have learned to heal themselves over millions of years of evolutionary time. Our bodies are the best pharmacies in nature. They make antibodies, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, immunomodulators, and anti-cancer drugs in the precise dose at the precise time and for the right target organ; and all the instructions come in the packaging! The "packaging" is your own inner self -- the ultimate and supreme genius which mirrors the wisdom of the universe.
Cognition or thinking, moods, feelings and emotions, behavior, social interactions, personal relationships, environment, diet, and the inner world of consciousness including attention and intentionality all influence the biology of healing. I hope the American Cancer Society's attention on cancer this week will also stimulate more interest and ultimately more research in the field of spontaneous remission. Please visit either this site or Yahoo tomorrow for ELEANOR'S SOCIETY.