You can cure (some) cancer yourself

Meditation – which brings detachment from the things of this world – is also one of the best ways to stay in this world longer. 

Back when the AIDS epidemic was new, before we knew about the HIV virus, doctors were grasping at any clue to find out what caused it. One thing they discovered was that several patients had a rare sarcoma, a muscle cancer. Usually we don’t get cancer in the muscles, or that’s what we thought. It turned out that the cancer was not a cause but an effect of the failing immune system. Other, more common cancers also were found more often in AIDS patients. So today we know that the human immune system can detect and destroy a range of cancers without us even knowing.

In fact, if you have been an adult for a long time, it is likely as not that you have already had cancer and healed yourself without even knowing it. The activation of the immune system would give some body-wide symptoms similar to the flu but without the localized symptoms. You might have a temperature for a while, feel tired and lose your appetite, things like that. Of course these can happen for any number of reasons, so I am not saying you have a cancer just because you’re under the weather for a while. But it is one of the things that can happen, and do to most people.

As with an infection, once you have beaten a particular strain of cancer, you will be immune to it, probably for the rest of your life. So if you get a sarcoma when you are 40, for instance, and the body quietly beats it, you are the lucky one. If your identical twin doesn’t get it until 70, it is likely they won’t see the cherry trees blossom twice. From middle age upward, white blood cells start dying off if they have not been used before. So the older we get, the harder it is to beat our cancers.

Thanks to genetic wizardry that I don’t understand, it is even possible to put white blood cells in a petri dish with a known cancer and teach them to recognize it, then put them back into the body to mop up any remnants of the cancer after surgery. This is expensive though, so I suppose even if it is approved, it will only be available for the rich. At least for a while. But the point is, bodies can cure cancer by using the same immune system we use to fight off the flu or an infected hangnail. I have even read of scientists who believe that being exposed to more germs during our healthy years – including some vaccines – could increase our chance of staying cancer-free well into old age.

People often talk about “fighting cancer” and even say of those who die that they “lost the fight against cancer”, as if dying means you are some kind of loser. In that sense, we are all losers, with the possible exception of Elijah and Enoch. Life ends, and cancer is one of the way it ends. But cancer is not always the end of life, less so now than before, but even apart from medical intervention, we know today that the body can heal itself of cancer sometimes – most times, probably. But not by fighting. Not by getting angry. Getting enough rest, meditating, eating healthy, moderate exercise, all these things help. Anger or fear weaken the immune system. Fighting cancer is a losing proposition. Rather we heal ourselves, the way we generally do.

But sometimes it is the end of the road. That does not mean that you are a loser, or that you did not have enough faith. So perhaps you did not eat your veggies as often as you should back before you knew you were ill. Perhaps you could have meditated more, stressed less, not burned your candle in both ends. Hindsight is surprisingly sharp-eyed. But we are mortals, at least physically. We can do our best but sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes it is not enough to run faster, you need to have started earlier. And we can’t wind back life. Life is the expression in time of who we are.

For as long as we have a future, we can change that, though. Mostly by changing ourselves.