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Home  /  Integrative Cancer Care  /  Mind  /  Cancer As a Turning Point

Cancer As a Turning Point

By Jeannine Walston


Cancer As a Turning Point: Zest, Joy and Eliminating Shoulds

In Cancer As a Turning Point, Lawrence LeShan, PhD discusses how psychological and lifestyle changes toward a zest for life can mobilize the immune system, promote wellness, and healing through cancer.

“The method concerns people taking control over their own life— of searching for a life-style especially suited for them and, when found, actively working toward living this life. For many individuals, this requires a complete restructuring of their thinking about themselves. A very large number of us grew up oriented toward what we should do rather than what we would enjoy doing; toward what we should want in our life rather than what we really want. Our actions are usually based on these ‘shoulds’ rather than on the question of what would fulfill me— what style of being, relating, creating would bring me to a life of zest?'”

“What kind of life would they be living if they adjusted the world to themselves instead of—as our (cancer) patients generally have done—adjusted themselves to the world?”

LeShan’s invites individuals in Cancer As a Turning Point to inquire within themselves about what they really want. “This is the life, this life and the search for it, that mobilizes the immune system against cancer more than anything else we know today,” he wrote.

This way of living involves connecting with deep authenticity, including passions and dreams, and then pursuing them. What does this feel like?

“…the kind of meaning that makes us glad to get out of bed in the morning and glad to go to bed at night—the kind of life that makes us look forward zestfully to each day and to the future.”

LeShan suggests the following questions in Cancer As a Turning Point of self-inquiry to create joy and help mobilize self-healing when dealing with cancer for cancer patients.

  • What is right with you?
  • What are your special and unique ways of being, relating, and creating that are your own and natural ways to live?
  • What is your special music to beat out in your life and your unique song to sing so that when you are singing you are glad to get up in the morning and glad to go to bed at night?
  • What style of life would give you zest, enthusiasm, and involvement?
  • What steps will help you to create this life?

Carl Jung, MD conveys the expansive nature of when an individual taps into “some higher or wider interest” and the movement that can subsequently occur in their worldview and life.

“I have often seen individuals who simply outgrew a problem which had destroyed others… Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through the widening of his view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency… What, on a lower level, had led to the wildest conflicts and emotions full of panic, viewed from the higher level of the personality, now seemed like a storm in the valley seen from a high mountaintop. This does not mean that the thunderstorm is robbed of its reality; it means that instead of being in it, one is now above it.”
-Carl Jung, MD, The Secret of the Golden Flower

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For More Information

  • Getting Well Again by O. Carl Simonton, MD
  • Cancer As A Turning Point: A Handbook for People with Cancer, Their Families, and Health Professionals by Lawrence LeShan, PhD
  • The Type C Connection: The Mind-Body Link to Cancer and Your Health by Lydia Temoshok, PhD, and Henry Dreher
  • When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection by Gabor Mate, MD
  • Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine by Candace Pert, PhD
  • The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo