Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dying to Be Me

Today is Saturday, April 6, 2013, and I've just finished reading Dying to Be Me, by Anita Moorjani.  There are so many wonderful things in this book that I can't possibly recount them all here and do them justice.  

Briefly, Anita Moorjani was born in Singapore to parents who were from India.  She was brought up in the Hindu religion and culture, but educated in international schools where Christianity was the main religion of the students and faculty.  In Singapore and Hong Kong, she was exposed as well to Chinese culture and spirituality.  She now lives and works in Hong Kong, with her husband, Danny. 

In April 2002 Anita was diagnosed with stage 2 (early to mid-stage) Hodgkin's Lymphoma after consulting her doctor about a firm swelling just above her left collarbone.  She decided to seek a variety of "alternative" treatments, some of which worked for a time.  By 2005, the cancer had enlarged her lymph nodes and she began to have symptoms such as night sweats and itching skin.  By Christmastime of that year, she had large, infected skin ulcers that would not heal.  She lost muscle mass and weighed only about 90 pounds.  Her body was no longer able to absorb nutrients, and her kidneys started to fail.  On February 2, 2006, she was unable to get out of bed.  Her face, neck and left arm were swollen.  Her eyes were swollen shut and her lungs were so filled with fluid that she was having trouble breathing.  Keep in mind that she had not sought treatment through Western allopathic medicine up to this time.  In desperation, her husband and mother called for help, and several oncologists were called in to study her case, as well as other specialists who could address her failing organs. By the time she was admitted to the hospital, she was in a coma. The doctors told her family that she did not have long to live, and that they should prepare for her imminent death.   That night, Anita had a Near Death Experience (NDE).  

When she awoke from the coma 24 hours later, she declared that she was healed.  By February 4, she was asking to have the feeding tube that had been threaded down her esophagus through her nose completely removed.  By February 5 she was moved from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to a private room.  At that point, much of her neck and facial swelling had gone down, and the lymph nodes had begun to shrink and soften. 

Anita Moorjani
Although the doctors continued to run test after test, the results of which indicated that her cancer was gone, they persuaded Anita to accept outpatient chemotherapy.  They prescribed 8 cycles of 7 drugs, with each cycle lasting three weeks. At one point, a doctor told her that the lesions on her skin were too deep and wide to be able to heal on their own, and that she would need surgery.  However, by the time she was thought to be strong enough to withstand surgery, ultrasound tests showed that there were no swollen lymph nodes to indicate cancer.  Soon after, her wounds began to heal by themselves, and she never had the surgery.  A CT-PET scan in July finally convinced the doctors that she didn't need any more treatment, and they stopped the chemotherapy two cycles short.  Doctors today continue to pore over her records in an attempt to understand the basis for her rapid, miraculous healing.  Anita says in her book that they will never find it, because they are looking in all the wrong places. "I don't believe that the cure for these cases lies in medicine, because scientists look in all the wrong places – they're only studying the symptoms, not the cause, and then creating drugs to mask the symptoms.  They may be able to manage the symptoms, but I don't believe they'll find a 'cure.'"

As a result of the information she became aware of during her NDE, Anita now says that her particular cancer was caused by fear.  She had been raised in a culture that values submissiveness in women, and she just wasn't that kind of girl.  When she finally did marry, people around her began to hound her about having children.  She says that her fears of not measuring up within her family and her cultural community caused her to act in ways that were not natural for her.  

In the summer of 2001, Anita's best friend, Soni, was diagnosed with cancer, and shortly after that, her husband's brother-in-law was also diagnosed.  As she watched their illness progress, she became even more fearful.  As she read more and more about the causes of cancer, she realized that there was a long list of potential causes, including pesticides, microwaves, plastic food containers, genetically modified foods, preservatives, mobile phones, sunshine, air pollution, and more.  Her fears mounted, until she began to fear life, itself.  

During her NDE, Anita became aware of herself as Soul, a vast, multifaceted, and powerful energy being that is at all times connected to the Source, which is, in a word, love.  She realized that each of us is connected to all life, and that we each have a role to play in the greater tapestry of life.  Each of us must learn to love himself or herself and live life fearlessly, without allowing cultural beliefs or religious dogma to limit us.  She speaks of being love, rather than giving love.  All we have to do to fully express our part in Creation is to be ourselves. 

At one point during her illness, she moved to India to pursue Ayurvedic treatment, and she began to feel better.  When she returned to Hong Kong to be with her husband, even the Ayurvedic treatment didn't seem to help.  She says that the reason is that when she was there, everyone around her believed in this treatment, and there weren't many naysayers to tell her that the treatment was not the "right" one for her.  In Hong Kong, by contrast, there were people who believed in the Chinese style of medicine, which, interestingly enough, directly contradicts the wisdom of the Ayurvedic modality of India.  Then, of course, there were also the proponents of Western allopathic medicine, who were sure that she would never heal from anything but modern chemotherapy.  

Toward the end of the book, Anita talked about the various cultural views of illness and health, and how they affect our healing.  The following information jumped out at me:  

"Do you know that in Chinese culture, cancer is often referred to as "Western people's disease"?  Are you aware that the incidence of cancer in China, Japan, and even India is lower than in western countries? 
Some people think it's because of diet, but I feel that's only part of it.  Another, possibly even larger factor may be mindset – the Western belief in cancer, the fear of it, and the constant 'awareness' campaigns!  Conventional Western medicine focuses on detecting cancer, and most of their technology is diagnostic rather than promoting overall physical well-being and balance." 

After reading that quote, I had to look up incidence rates of cancer in various countries, which is typically reported in number of cases per 100,000 people.  Reporting is different in each country, so a strict comparison is impossible.  Nevertheless, the statistics are pretty astounding.  The highest incidence of cancer is found in Denmark, with around 326 cases per 100,000 people.  Ireland has 317, Australia 314, France and the United States 300, Canada 296, and the UK 266. China, by contrast, has about 135 cases per 100,000.  India, which has no central reporting system, has areas where the incidence is as low as 10 cases per 100,000 (this number is called lakh in India) and as high as 105 per 100,000.  Several sources on the web are reporting that incidence of cancer is rising in both India and China, and while the rise is gradual, the fact that the populations of these countries is so huge is a point of concern.

Anita speaks of Western doctors' belief that cancer is something foreign to the body that has to be taken out.  What she realized in her NDE is that cancer was her own body's reflection of her lack of love for herself and of all her fears.  She says that when she released her fears and began to love and appreciate herself, the body had no more reason to reflect fear and lack of love, and so it healed on its own, rapidly.  

She says that all healing modalities are culturally based, and there is no one approach that is intrinsically superior to any other.  Whatever approach is used, if you are using it out of fear, it will not work for you.  "Treatment that addresses the mind and spirit will have a much better chance of effecting change than an approach that merely deals with the body," she says. "And any modality that's wholeheartedly supported by the surrounding culture will be more effective than one without such underlying strength – especially if the method addresses the patient's mind-set and spiritual outlook."  

As to the real cause of cancer, Anita says, "I haven't seen any real well-funded research on what I view as the real causes of cancer, while billions of dollars are spent on drug-based approaches.  I often wonder whether it is easier to make money selling medication than it is to bolster people's sense of their own divine magnificence!"   Indeed.

As for diet, Anita says, "I used to be paranoid about what I ate.  I was a strict vegetarian.  I consumed only organic foods and was into macrobiotics, vitamin supplements, and wheatgrass juice – and that was before I got sick.  I thought that everything caused cancer, from microwaves to preservatives.  I used to eat very healthily, but I did so out of fear. 

"Now I eat whatever I'm drawn to.  I enjoy chocolate and a good wine or champagne from time to time.  I just make sure that I have a good time with food and life!  I think that it's more important to be happy than anything else.

"It's no fun eating all the so-called right foods out of fear of getting sick and being miserable about it."

Anita says that the lesson of her NDE is that "every part of you is magnificent – your ego, intellect, body, and spirit.  It's who you are – a beautiful product of this Universe's creation.  Every aspect of you is perfect.  There's nothing to let go, nothing to forgive, nothing to attain.  You already are everything you need to be.  It can seem so complicated, but it's not." 

Anita reminds us that "when we're true to ourselves, we become instruments of truth for the planet.  Because we're all connected, we touch the lives of everyone around us, who then affect others.  Our only obligation is to be the love we are and allow our answers to come from within in the way that's most appropriate for us. "

As a cancer survivor myself, I have my own ideas about the reason for my own particular illness, but I agree with Anita's idea that when we get caught up in our emotions, especially our fears, cancer is one way that the body responds to our thoughts and emotions.  I agree with her that each person's case is unique and specific to the person involved.  I agree also that a one-and-for-all cure will never be found in medicine, because people create experiences such as these to play out their own life lessons.  Even for those who lose their physical bodies to cancer and other diseases, there are valuable life lessons to be learned, which can be processed from the Other Side.  No experience is wasted.

The main thing to realize is that who we really are is not the body alone, that we are beings of energy and pure consciousness, and that we are eternal.  No matter how horrible our experience here might be, our situation is not a punishment for being imperfect.  Rather, it is only the Universe mirroring our thoughts and fears.  When we change how we think and when we choose more consciously what emotions to manifest (take action on), our situation begins to improve and we can once again enjoy life. :-)

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