By These Things Men Live: Chronicles of a Four-Time Cancer Survivor
by Bob Ellal
(W. Mystic, CT USA)
Bob Ellal is the author of By These Things Men Live: Chronicles of a Four-Time Cancer Survivor.
I asked him to share some of his inspirational story with us here. Val
Beating Cancer Four Times
In 1991 I was diagnosed with Stage Four lymphoma cancer of the bone and given six months to live. I was 32. My sons were aged two and six months. My ex-wife and I had just built a huge house on a lake. And my writing career in the corporate world was taking off. I had everything to live for. Death was not in my plans.
I decided I was going to live to see my sons grow up into men—that I would beat this disease, not just for me, but for them, too. So I got to work. I researched everything I could about patients who had survived terminal illnesses. A common thread emerged: meditation and visualization. Survivors utilized the mind/body connection to bolster their immune systems.
So for the next six months while I was given double doses of CHOP chemotherapy, I meditated and visualized five or six times a day. And against all odds, at the end of six months I was cancer-free. I thought I was cured.
About a year later the cancer relapsed and the doctors recommended a stem cell transplant. It’s a medieval procedure, in which baby white cells are harvested from the blood to use after high-dose chemotherapy destroys your bone marrow—then the cells are dripped back into you to recreate your immune system. It’s a risky procedure, with a high mortality rate. I kept on meditating and visualizing, and it helped, because I got out of the transplant room in record time and cancer-free.
End of story, right? What cancer cells could survive after being blasted by the high-dose chemo of a transplant, which is three or four times stronger than ordinary chemotherapy.
A year later the cancer returned. As it was a very aggressive mix of lymphoma cells, the oncologists recommended another stem cell transplant. This was dangerous for me, as having a transplant suppresses your immune system and energy for life. To subject myself to another could mean death from the chemotherapy. The doctors gave me a 20% chance of survival.
I decided I needed help to go deeper into the mind/body connection. I connected with a kung fu master from Boston who taught me the secrets of qigong, or energy work, Chinese mind/body exercises used for health and martial arts. He taught me the most difficult internal energy exercise called standing post meditation.
Simply, you stand feet shoulder width-apart, toes forward, knees bent a few inches, sacrum tucked, head level, with your arms held in a big arc in front of your chest, palms facing the heart. And you focus on deep abdominal breathing. And you meditate for an hour.
I put in hundreds of hours of standing in the months preceding my transplant. And it paid off. Once again, I came out in record time (which amazed the doctors—I should have been deathly ill because of my previous transplant) and cancer free.
Then I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life—I stopped training. I thought I was cured. I started lifting weights to build my body back up and thought I was home-free.
Eight months later the cancer returned in my spine. The pain was excruciating: My legs would collapse under me unexpectedly, and I had trouble urinating. My oncologists were at a loss, as I’d already had every time of chemo available to fight lymphoma. Out of desperation they gave me one round of the original CHOP chemo. I started doing the standing post for an hour, twice a day.
In a month the pain was gone, and so was the cancer. That was over 14 years ago, and I’ve been cancer-free ever since. I practice qigong every day to keep the wolves at bay. And my sons have grown into men. I kept my promise.
Bob has coauthored a new book called Energy Warriors: Overcoming Cancer and Crisis with the Power of Qigong Click on the book cover below to see the book.