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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

From Cancer Patient to “Respant” (Responsible Participant) by Bernie Siegel, MD

This blog is posted with permission of cancer pioneer, author of Love, Medicine and Miracles (and many other books and CDs), and Emerald Heart Advisor Dr. Bernie Siegel. This somewhat shortened version is a one borrowed from The Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. To read the entire article and others, please visit Bernie at To view more posts on the EHCF's blog, please visit

Enjoy, this is a powerful post.

Elyn Jacobs, Director, The Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation

From Cancer Patient to “Respant” (Responsible Participant)
by Bernie Siegel, MD
Unfortunately doctors and health professionals, in general, do not study success. We are far more likely to consider an unexpected recovery to be due to the treatment or a spontaneous remission. However, I have learned from my experience with patients and by asking them, “Why didn’t you die when you were supposed to?” that they always had a story to tell.
By speaking up and becoming a character or problem patient you become identified as a person and not by your room number or disease and, therefore, are far less likely to have a fatal or non-fatal medical error made while being cared for. The word patient derives its meaning from submissive sufferer. That is not a good thing to be when hospitalized or receiving medical treatment of any kind. You need to be a respant, or responsible participant if you want to heal and survive.

We now know from studies how one’s emotions and personality affect survival rates. I was criticized years ago for speaking about many things; no one had researched because no one believed they made sense, which are now scientific. Simple things like laughter affecting the survival of cancer patients and loneliness affecting the genes which control immune function are now proven to be true by studies. The fact that women live longer than men and married men live longer than single men with the same cancers, is not about female hormones or sleeping with them, but about relationships and meaning in your life. Survival behavior and an immune competent personality are not an accident or luck.

…When people have a sense of meaning in their life, express anger and emotions appropriately in defense of themselves, ask for help from family and friends, participate in their health care decisions, say no to what they choose not to do, find time to do what they enjoy and to play, use their feelings to help them to heal their lives and do not live a role but an authentic life they will always do better than expected. I would add that a spiritual faith and not seeing the disease as God punishing them also plays a role, as well as, their desire and intention to survive. Disease is a loss of health, not punishment, and your health is to be looked for as you would seek to find your lost car keys.
Difficult patients do not die when they are supposed to. Statistics do not determine their outcome or results. Those with inspiration who transform their lives and rebirth themselves give their bodies live messages and the body then does the best it can for them. Our bodies love us but if we do not love our life and bodies it sees illness and death as a way to be free of our afflictions… When you let an MD, or Medical Deity, determine whether you live or die you are giving away your power. I have seen people, whose hope was taken away by doctors,….go home, climb into bed and die. I have also seen others get damn angry at their doctors and go on to survive for many years or be cured of their disease.

You have to start with a belief in yourself and faith in all the things you incorporate into your life and choose as therapy. I know people who have left their troubles to God and been cured of cancer. A patient of mine, who was a landscaper, after surgery refused treatment for his cancer because it was springtime and he wanted to go home and make the world beautiful before he died. He lived to be ninety-four and became my teacher…

….When patients become empowered they do not just respond from their intellect but use their intuition too. When you are submissive and let others prescribe for you, you are in trouble…
Last but not least one must also choose the therapy you believe in and you can reprogram your mind and body through guided imagery if there are any conflicts. I know of a case where, after repairing the radiation therapy machine, the radioactive material was not replaced. So for one month people were not being treated and yet the radiation therapist did not know this until their routine inspection of the machine was done a month later. He was telling me how terrible he felt about not treating anyone for a month when I said, “You’d have to be an idiot to not know you weren’t treating anyone. So obviously people had side effects and their tumors shrinking because they thought they were being treated.” His response, “Oh my God you’re right.”
…Patients need to be respants and keep their power and feel free to change doctors and criticize them in a constructive way. The best doctors are criticized by patients, nurses and family. Why? Because they do not make excuses and learn from their mistakes. So love yourself, take responsibility for and participate in your life and state of health. This is not about avoiding dying but about living and its beneficial side effects.

Elyn Jacobs

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