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What is cancer?

Dec 2, 2020 | Blog

Cancer is a disorder of the cell. The cell is the foundation of “tissue”, which is a collection of cells that perform a specific purpose for the body. A clump of cells that are not performing a useful function for the body is a “tumour” or “mass”. A clump of cells that are actively harming the rest of the body, stealing energy and wandering, can be seen as a “malignant tumour”, or cancer.

The body of a human being is made of roughly 10 trillion cells. All of these cells arose from a single cell at the moment of conception. They are formed in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, known as the “embryonic phase”. The remainder of pregnancy (“foetal phase”) is devoted to growth, maturation, and specialisation (differentiation) of these cells. Once a cell is committed to a certain specialised tissue pathway, the door to other paths is usually closed behind it. For instance, a bone cell does not have the option of being a brain cell once its path is chosen. Although it is impossible to count precisely, it is estimated that a human embryo is forming about 1 trillion cells her week. If we were to simply count 1 trillion seconds, it would take many, many, many, lifetimes.

The speed of cell production during this embryonic time actually defies our comprehension. All of this is occurring in an environment that is relatively low in oxygen (low energy), and with a relatively low pH (acidic). As the embryo becomes a foetus, the placenta provides oxygen and energy which brings the pH to a more alkaline level. All of these things are associated with cell differentiation and specialisation. Although some take this concept for granted, it is nothing short of miraculous that we emerge at nine months as a fully functioning organism. comprised of an incredible array of different specialised tissues designed to carry us through our unique lifetime, in this specific time and place. Let’s be clear: you are no accident. There is purpose for your presence here, or you could not have happened.

It is important to understand that each of our cells must be able to respond to its environment, its neighbouring cells, and to repair itself when injured or worn out. In order to do this, cells must reactivate genes for repair and regrowth that were switched off when they became specialised.
More often than not, our cells “get it right” and a tissue is repaired and rejuvenated “as new” or with a minor scar. There are many different pathways for repair and regrowth, so that the cell has an optimal chance to keep living and functioning as it should. Sometimes many genetic pathways get turned on with repeated injury and inflammatory signals. Sometimes they don’t get turned off when they should. This is a “pre-malignant” cell. When these injured cells are signalled to reproduce, these genetic signals are carried to the next generation and a dysfunctional tissue, known as cancer, is the result. Based on current evidence, it would seem that cells must delve back to their “embryonic origins” to respond to injury which is often associated with inflammation and reduced oxygen. A cancer cell can thus be thought of as a cell that had to “go back to its ungraceful youth” and got stuck there. It is thus acting on a genetic program (feedback loop) that is out of synch with time and place.

Each cell carries with it a “self destruct” or suicide gene. This is called “programmed cell death”, or apoptosis. This is the final checkpoint in the cell to keep it from continued reproduction and encroachment upon its neighbours. The failure of this final genetic checkpoint is common to all cancers, regardless of their origin.

In summary, cancer is a collection of embryonic cells that have responded to injury (physical, chemical, or infectious). They have been unable to shut off their inappropriate growth and aberrant repair signals. They cannot find their “self-destruct” button, so they begin to crowd their neighbours and steal their groceries and power (blood flow). They forget where their home is, so they grow where they don’t belong. Based on this understanding, if we were to picture the cancer cell as a human, it would be a very low functioning, completely self-absorbed, hungry, injured, wandering, toddler, with a very loud voice that is very tired and screaming for help (disturbing everyone around). Pause and reflect upon this for a moment. This image invokes a very different mind set than the image of the cancer cell being “Darth Vader”, or some other clever, evil, monster that wants to kill you and “outsmart” you. This latter “dark emperor” notion invites the concept of “war” which is intrinsically fearful and stressful. It leads us to a “battle” which is not productive or particularly useful. We feel doomed from the start.

Healing and peace can be facilitated by a shift in this thinking pattern. What if you were to stop the battle, and acknowledge the injury and the hunger of the lost and confused infant? What does this infant need to heal and grow into a functioning member of the body, or find its way home? Can it be trained to respond to its neighbouring cells, function as it should, or just go away? Through my 30+ years of experience, I have come to believe that this can, and does, happen.
This understanding should be the starting place for our dealing with cancer, as it opens the door to many powerful possibilities. It transforms our energy from a place of fear (energy depleting) to a place of love (energy and life affirming).

Try a simple exercise:

Reflect upon things that have hurt you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Are you ready acknowledge these things? Are there some things that you can let go of?
Take a deep breath for 7 seconds. Exhale for 3 seconds. When you exhale, imagine these things, and all their associated fear, leaving your body with each exhalation. As you inhale, meditate upon the image or words of love, light, beauty, healing and peace coming into your body and replacing the hurt, fear, and injury as you are able to let them go. Repeat as needed, usually for 2-3 minutes each session. This is best done in a place of natural light or candle light. Soft classical music may also facilitate this exercise. Bach’s prelude in C seems to be a very helpful piece of background music as it contains the Fibonacci sequence which resonates with our DNA.