Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ministering to a friend with a death sentence from his doctor

Yesterday, I accompanied my Muslim friend, Nor, to the house of Yoks Briones. I have known Yoks since 2003 when he acted as guide when we climbed Mt. Apo. He has also joined the annual bike for peace which I organize annually during the Mindanao Week of Peace. Last March 24, he accompanied me as far as Lomondao - 50 km from Davao City on the first day of my Bike-Tour around the Philippines. I was surprised when Nor told me a few days ago that Yoks had leukemia and that his doctor has told him that he only has six months to live. So when Nor told me that she was going to visit Yoks, I told her that I will come with her.

When I saw Yoks yesterday, he was lying in bed and looked very weak. He has lost a lot of weight and he couldn't speak because of a throat infection. His wife, Divina, told me that they decided not to have chemotheraphy since the doctor told them that he has reached the terminal stage. The doctor even told them not to bother considering alternative healing since nothing will come out it. In short, the doctor has passed the death sentence.

It was no wonder that Yoks feels frightened, hopeless and helpless. Those around him, including his wife, and his friends expect him to die soon. They even wonder if he will be able to celebrate his birthday in December. His friends consoled him by saying that he is fortunate since at least he knows when he is going to die and he can prepare himself.

I prayed over Yoks and taught him to meditate. I told him not to believe in the doctor's death sentence. Nobody has right to declare when we are going to die. We are all going to die but we don't know when. And we should never look at ourselves as dying. We are either alive or dead. We should not think of dying, but of living - a day at a time. I also told him not to be afraid of death. It is not the end of human existence but a transition to another mode of existence -with God. But he should not easily give up living and wait for death to come.

I will be visiting Yoks again two weeks from now after our general assembly in Cebu. I still don't know if by December we will be celebrating his birthday or his funeral. But I will try my best to minister to him and assist in his healing process. We cannot give up hope.

I still remember Alice who came to me more than year ago. She had cancer and her doctor had told her that she only had three months to live. She refused to have surgery since she had reached the terminal stage and the doctor told her that it would be useless. She had given up hope and everyone around her expected that she was going to die. I taught Alice to meditate and to visualize herself living up to 80 years old and to see her granchildren grow up. She forgave her mother whom she hated for abandoning her when she ways young. She achieved inner healing. And she decided to have surgery. After more than a year, Alice is alive and healthy. The cancer is gone. The lesson: do not believe in the doctor's death sentence.

Cancer is a mysterious ailment. Modern medicine relies too much on drugs and technology - chemotheraphy, surgery, radiotherapy. But these have proven to be very expensive and ineffective. This has led American oncologists such as Simonton and Siegel to consider a more holistic approach that mobilize the power of the mind and of belief. That is why meditation, visualization, prayer and other easter modalities (such as reiki and pranic healing) can be helpful in this. This is where the priests, shamans and psycho-therapists can help.

Doctors should be careful in dealing with a cancer patient. Cancer is not necesarrily a death sentence. They should never tell a patient that there is no hope and that he should prepare for death. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In his book, Peace, Love and Healing, Dr. Siegel tells this story:
"The aunt was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and given three months to live. In desperation she went to Mexico for laetrile, returned home and was doing beautifully a year later, having gone back to work and started driving a car again. She felt great. Then one day she ran into her original doctor, who expressed shock and surprise that she was still alive. When she told him what she had done, he indignantly proclaimed laetrile quackery and berated her for wasting her time and money and said he could show her proof. She died that night."

Besides medicine, what a cancer patient needs is faith, hope and love. The most cruel thing a doctor can do is to make the patient feel hopeless and helpless and to dismiss alternative and spiritual healing as quackery.

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