Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Cancer Personality - Healing Emotions

The Cancer Personality 

Once I was diagnosed with cancer, it became my full-time job to do everything I could to empower my immune system to prevent a recurrence of the disease. That was very important because I was given a 20% chance of living 5 years, and no medical treatments had been successful at extending the survival time. It had to be my own immune system that would keep the cancer from returning. 

I knew in my heart that I had been under a lot of stress, and I was ready to relinquish control in order to heal. Working with a therapist, I completed the 28 Tasks in the Cancer Self-Healing Guide from the Puna Wai Ora Mind-Body Cancer Clinic in New Zealand. It's designed to help you heal the root psycho-emotional cause of cancer - because when life is hard, we may develop an unconscious desire to exit this life which must be addressed if we want to heal completely. 

What is the Cancer Personality Type?

According to Dr W Douglas Brodie: "In dealing with many thousands of cancer patients over the past 28 years, it has been my observation that there are certain personality traits present in the cancer-susceptible individual. These traits are as follows: 
1. Being highly conscientious, caring, dutiful, responsible, hard-working, and usually of above average intelligence. 
2. Exhibits a strong tendency toward carrying other people's burdens and toward taking on extra obligations, and often "worrying for others." 
3. Having a deep-seated need to make others happy. Being a "people pleaser" with a great need for approval. 
4. Often lacking closeness with one or both parents, which sometimes, later in life, results in lack of closeness with spouse or others who would normally be close. 
5. Harbours long-suppressed toxic emotions, such as anger, resentment and / or hostility. The cancer-susceptible individual typically internalizes such emotions and has great difficulty expressing them. 
6. Reacts adversely to stress, and often becomes unable to cope adequately with such stress. Usually experiences an especially damaging event about 2 years before the onset of detectable cancer. The patient is not able to cope with this traumatic event or series of events, which comes as a "last straw" on top of years of suppressed reactions to stress. 
7. Has an inability to resolve deep-seated emotional problems/conflicts, usually beginning in childhood, often even being unaware of their presence. 

Typical of the cancer-susceptible personality, as noted above, is the long-standing tendency to suppress "toxic emotions", particularly anger. Usually beginning in childhood, this individual has held in their hostility and other unacceptable emotions. More often than not, this feature of the affected personality has its origins in feelings of rejection by one or both parents. Whether these feelings of rejection are justified or not, the individual perceives this rejection as real, and this results in a lack of closeness with the "rejecting" parent, followed later in life by a lack of closeness with spouses and others with whom close relationships would normally develop. Those at the higher risk for cancer tend to develop feelings of loneliness as a result of their having been deprived of affection and acceptance earlier in life, even if this is only their perception. They have a tremendous need for approval and acceptance, and develop a very high sensitivity to the needs of others while suppressing their own emotional needs. 
They become the "caretakers" of the world, showing great compassion and caring for others, and will go out of their way to look after others. They are very reluctant to accept help from others, fearing that it may jeopardize their role as the caretaker. Throughout their childhood they have been typically taught "not to be selfish", and they take this to heart as a major lifetime objective. All of this is highly commendable in our culture, but must be somehow modified in the case of the cancer patient. A distinction needs to be made here between the "care-giving" and the "care-taking" personality. There is nothing wrong with care-giving, of course, but the problem arises when the susceptible individual derives their entire worth, value and identity from their role as "caretaker". If this very important shift cannot be made, the patient is stuck in this role, and the susceptibility to cancer greatly increases. As already stated, a consistent feature of those who are susceptible to cancer appears to be that they "suffer in silence", and bear their burdens without complaint. These burdens of their own as well as the burdens of others weigh heavily upon these people through a lifetime of emotional suppression. The carefree extrovert, on the other hand, seems to be far less vulnerable to cancer than the caring introvert described above. How one reacts to stress appears to be a major factor in the larger number of contributing causes of cancer. Most cancer patients have experienced a highly stressful event, usually about 2 years prior to the onset of detectable disease. This traumatic event is often beyond the patient's control, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a business, job, home, or some other major disaster. The typical cancer personality has lost the ability to cope with these extreme events, because his/her coping mechanism lies in his/her ability to control the environment. When this control is lost, the patient has no other way to cope. Major stress causes suppression of the immune system, and does so more overwhelmingly in the cancer-susceptible individual than in others. Thus personal tragedies and excessive levels of stress appear to combine with the underlying personality described above to bring on the immune deficiency which allows cancer to thrive." 

According to the Puna Wai Ora Mind-Body Cancer Clinic, "Healing cancer begins with healing your emotions. All cancer is caused by the suppression of, and the inability to let go of negative emotions including anger, hate, resentment and/or grief or guilt. These emotions create tremendous stress in the body that causes cancer over time." 

In overcoming any serious or terminal illness, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of a positive mental/emotional outlook. Finding love and forgiveness, for yourself and others, is paramount to emotional health. I have read many books which suggest that repressed anger, hate, resentment and grief are the root emotional causes leading to the development of cancer. I strongly believe that prolonged periods of psycho-emotional stress can culminate in serious diseases because of the way that stress suppresses the function of the immune system and its ability to destroy microscopic rogue cells before the turn into cancer. 

From the time I get up in the morning to the time my head hits the pillow at night, I like to think that everything I am doing has a purpose to promote my healing and well-being. I don't think of it as work - I like to think of it as pampering myself. If I read the statistics about uterine leiomyosarcoma online, I'll be honest - it makes me nauseous. (That's why I created this blog.) But if I keep my mind solely focused on the thing I am doing in the present moment to contribute to my health and well-being, my life is rather wonderful. 

Cancer surgeon Dr Ryke-Geerd Hamer from Germany examined 20,000 cancer patients with all types of cancer. Dr Hamer noticed that all his patients seemed to have something in common: there had been some kind of psycho-emotional conflict prior to the onset of their cancer - usually a few years before - a conflict that had never fully resolved. Dr Hamer started including emotional therapy as an important part of the healing process and found that when the specific conflict was resolved, the cancer immediately stopped growing at a cellular level. Isn't that amazing?

My personal goal has been to free myself from all past hurts, resentments and all negative emotions that have been stored in my body. (For more on the "pain body," read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.) When I meditate, my doctor instructed me to send Love into any area of the body that has discomfort or is an area of concern. Love and forgiveness are essential and integral components of the complementary treatment for cancer. The first step to healing is to be open to the idea of forgiveness.

My mantra: "I desire to replace all pain with forgiveness, and have Love as the abiding energy in my body."

With their permission, I am reprinting the 28 Tasks from the Cancer Self-Healing Guide. (  If you are working through the Self-Healing Guide, I'd love to hear your comments.

At first glance, I thought it would be fairly easy to answer the questions in the Cancer Healing Guide. Once I began the process of writing my responses, however, I found that was not the case. At first it was quite difficult for me to recognize and reveal negative thoughts and emotions that I never chose to acknowledge before. My default program is to avoid conflict, and thus I also wanted to avoid writing about any conflicts in my past or present. Scheduling a regular appointment with a therapist gave me a deadline and held me accountable to complete the work, and I don’t think I would have done it otherwise. My therapist had the professional expertise to help me process and release the negative emotions once I had identified them. 

  • 1.      Write a short paragraph that describes your relationship with your mother.
  • 2.      Write a page about what you do/did like about your mother. It does not matter if your mother is living or has passed. If you have two mothers, write one page for each.
  • 3.      Write a page about what you do/did not like about your mother. Try to be as honest as you can. If your mother has passed, she will want you to be honest so you can heal.
  • 4.      If there were one thing only that you could say to your mother – and it was the last thing you could ever say – what’s the one thing you would really like to say to your mother?
  • 5.      Write a 2-3 page letter to your mother telling her directly how you feel about her. Express to your mother how you really feel about her deep down, not just if you love her, but if you have anger towards her, or have felt rejected by her in any way. Note: Keep this letter to private, and do not send it.
  • 6.      Write a short paragraph that describes your relationship with your father.
  • 7.      Write a page about what you do/did like about your father. It does not matter if your father is living or has passed. If you have two fathers, write one page for each.
  • 8.      Write a page about what you do/did not like about your father. As with your mother, try to be as honest as you can. If your father has passed, he will want you to be honest so you can heal.
  • 9.      If there were one thing only that you could say to your father – and it was the last thing you could ever say – what’s the one thing you would really like to say to your father?
  • 10.  Write a 2-3 page letter to your father telling him directly how you feel about him. Express to your father how you really feel about him deep down, not just if you love him, but if you have anger towards him, or have felt rejected by him in any way. Note: Keep this letter to private, and do not send it.
  • 11.  Write a short paragraph about your childhood, how you were feeling up to the age of 15.
  • 12.  Write a page on the following: What was the most upsetting experience for you as a child? If there is more than one experience that was very upsetting, then write a page for each.
  • 13.  Are you close to your family? Do you feel rejected by anyone in your family? Write a 2-3 page letter to your family telling them directly how you feel. Note: Keep this letter private and do not send it.
  • 14.  Write a 2-3 page letter to God or to yourself detailing how you feel about having cancer. Also, rate your level of grief/ stress/ trauma from 0-10 of having cancer and of being told you have cancer. (It is very important to recognize that new conflicts in your psyche may be brought on by the very stress of having cancer or of painful or nauseating therapies.)
  • 15.  Write a whole page on the following: Who has caused you the most pain in your life? How has this person caused you pain? If you feel you wish to write further about this experience, then do so.
  • 16.  Write a whole page about a time in your life when you were abused. If there were multiple experiences, then write a page for each. If you wish to write further about each, then do so.
  • 17.  Excluding your parents, write a short paragraph about each significant relationship you have had in your life. (i.e. husband, wife, partner, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend)
  • 18.  Write a 2-3 page letter to each of these people you have had a significant relationship with, telling each one how you feel about them. Note: Keep these letters private and do not send them.
  • 19.  Do you suppress your emotions and your emotional needs? If so, write in detail when you do this and how you do this. (A consistent feature of those who are susceptible to cancer appears to be that they “suffer in silence,” and bear their burdens without complaint. Burdens of their own as well as others weigh heavily upon these people because they, through a lifetime of suppression, internalize their problems/conflicts. This suffering in silence takes the joy out of life and leads to the inner feeling that life is too hard and not worth living, leading to the subconscious wish to die.)
  • 20.  Write a 2-3 page letter to any person you are still feeling noticeably strong feelings of anger and hate for, and explain why in your letter. This may require writing an additional letter to a parent, etc. if there are still feelings of anger and hate left unspoken or not yet resolved. If you have a belief in God, you are encouraged to write a 2-3 page letter to God, expressing any anger or hate towards God you feel about your life, so it can be released and healed. Note: Keep these letters private and do not send.
  • 21.  Cancer may be caused by a significant loss or losses in life, resulting in complicated grief. Write a 2-3 page account of each significant loss you have experienced in your life, and explain why it is so painful. If it concerns someone who has passed over (including any miscarriages or abortions), or a relationship that has ended, write a 2-3 page account of each one.
  • 22.  Cancer is sometimes caused by guilt, a need for punishment, which brings about the condition of illness and great pain. Write a 2-3 page letter to each person you feel you have hurt or let down, including a letter to God (if you feel you have let God down, or just generally feel like a bad person). In each letter, explain why you did what you did, or why you feel like you are a bad person, and also why you feel you should be punished and for how long.
  • 23.  Even though you may want to stay alive for your family because you love them and they love you, is there a part of you deep down that really is tired of life, feels life has no purpose or joy anymore, and maybe you wish you didn’t have to endure such a hard life? This is the time for you to be completely honest and express these feelings on paper. Write a 10 page letter to God or to yourself explaining why you do not want to be here on Earth anymore. Expressing your feelings of wanting this life to end will not manifest more cancer in your body. Not expressing these feelings will. When you express them in this way, you will bring more light and healing into this part of you that is feeling tired of life.
  • 24.  Cancer is a disease built on the energy of fear. Write a 5 page letter to God or yourself expressing your deep fears, including your fears of living on Earth and your fears about death and dying.
  • 25.  What is the number one thing you want for YOU in your life? What do you really wish your life would be like? And what would you like to remove from your life that is causing you stress, making you tired, and depleting your will to live? Write a 10 page letter to yourself explaining what you would like your life to be like and why you deserve it. It is typical of the cancer personality to put the needs of others first while ignoring their own needs/dreams/desires. Many late-stage cancer survivors have in common the fact that they went on to pursue their dreams despite their dire diagnoses.
  • 26.  Write a 2-3 page account of why you believe you have cancer. (The Puma Wai Ora Center teaches that a person who has cancer has suppressed many emotions throughout their life, and there is usually a final “trigger” event that occurs approximately two years prior to diagnosis that causes a subconscious wanting to die and the resultant cancer.) Write about your unhappiness in life, your desire to “exit” life at certain points, and also what you believe was the trigger event. Your desire to exit life does not mean that you had thoughts of suicide but means that you experienced that life was too hard, and you wished that the pain of life would end.
  • 27.  Forgiving others is a key component of The Cancer Healing Guide. Write a list of everyone you feel you have not forgiven. Then write a 2-3 page letter to each of these people and explain why you are so angry with them and why you cannot forgive them. (Dr. Bernie Seigel, Clinical Professor of Surgery – Yale Medical School, “I have collected 57 extremely well documented so-called cancer miracles. At a certain particular moment in time they all decided that the anger and depression were probably not the best way to go, since they had such little time left. And so they went from that to being loving, caring, no longer angry, no longer depressed, and able to talk to the people they loved. These 57 people had the same pattern. They gave up, totally, their anger, and they gave up, totally, their depression, by specifically a decision to do so. And at that point the tumors began to shrink.”
  • 28.  Write a 10 page letter to God or to yourself explaining WHY you want to live. Then once a week after that, read it out loud to affirm your resolution and determination that you now choose life. You may also want to record it on tape, instead of saying it out loud, listening to it once a week or daily.


Anonymous said...


liked your message. Mentioned Myofascial Release last month. Forgot to say that the therapist ideally is at an 'Advanced' level, and also MUST be trained by John Barnes, PT. He found that almost all people have negative emotions, memories, traumas (surgeries, accidents, abusive relationships), and these things, whether we know it or not, are stored in our tissues. Keeping us from living in the present. Just as you are talking about. This therapy is exceptional for releasing these negative past emotions and memories that weigh on us like a brick. Women seem to be more in tune with their emotions and body and seem to get more out of the therapy, more so than men. But I got a lot out of it also, when doing the therapy recently. Its truly a whole body therapy, and life changing for many. Believe you would find it as wonderful as I did. 'Healing Ancient Wounds' is a book written by Mr Barnes. Jeff

Anonymous said...

John Barnes talking a little about MFR -