This past week I caught the inspiring new film about Stephen Hawking’s life, The Theory of Everything. Based on Jane Hawking’s memoir and endorsed by Mr. Hawking himself, actor Eddie Redmayne gives an amazing performance as he realistically portrays Mr. Hawking’s physical degeneration over time due to his diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). In the film and real life, Mr. Hawking was diagnosed at age 21 and told he had only two years to live. Since then, Mr. Hawking has continued to overcome numerous physical limitations placed upon him, and he presently still lives at 72 years of age.
In my own life, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 62. She was told she would not live past 9 months given the type of breast cancer she had. She lived passed the doctor’s 9 month prognosis and went on to live another 15 years despite incurring massive damage from radiation and chemotherapy (a decision she later regretted).
We have all heard stories of this nature, where someone is said to have “defied the odds” and lived much longer than the doctor predicted. Those who are said to have defied the odds, may indeed have defied the odds in their doctor’s limited experience. Outside the doctor's experience, it is important to know other outcomes and possibilities exist. It may be true that in a specific doctor’s experience most patients did die approximately 2 years after the initial diagnosis; these predictions are based on the doctor’s perspective which might include his own practical experience, the experiences of his colleagues and the current status quo. However, you might go to another doctor or another country where they practice different methods and modalities and observe the majority actually live longer or heal the disease. Doctors can only be as accurate as the current data and their current understanding allow. Their prognoses/diagnoses are not necessarily the final word given factors beyond their control, knowledge or understanding. Depending on who you consult, you might be presented with different realities—all real and accurate to the person offering them.
It is incredibly important to do your homework before choosing a doctor or health care practitioner to work with—BE SELECTIVE. Look to those who have assisted in creating the results you desire.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, a stem cell biologist, teacher and bestselling author, discusses the importance of what we hear, how it affects the subconscious mind and therefore our physical biology as proven in placebo experiments:
The doctor is the truth provider I select for my health. Why is that relevant? Because if the doctor says, “I’m sorry, you have cancer,” my subconscious just heard from the truth provider that I selected, as truth provider, that I have cancer. My mind is shaping my chemistry. Just hearing the word I have cancer will actually start off a cascade that can produce a cancer even though I never had one. It’s the basis of the placebo effect and more importantly what is called the nocebo effect… If the positive statement can heal a person, the nocebo effect has been demonstrated to be a powerful statement that can actually kill a person (Ratnanesan 2014).
A decade ago, I went to see my first chiropractor for a low back injury. He helped me on a number of levels and believed like I did in addressing body, mind and spirit. When I finally got x-rays of my back area, he saw there was a fusion of 2 bones that are typically separate. He told me I could not expect to regain mobility in that area. How could I regain mobility if my own practitioner did not believe it was possible? Disappointed he had placed his first limitation on me, I silently left the office knowing the time had come to find a new practitioner who believed what I did: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE… if you hold the space for that reality to occur. I now only work with teachers, practitioners and integrative medicine doctor’s who hold that kind of healing space.
A strong, constructive support system and a positive outlook are essential to overcoming the limitations imposed by the medical status quo.
The Theory of Everything demonstrates the influence of the strength and positive mindset of Mr. Hawking’s first wife, Jane. Despite all the naysayers (including his family at one point), Jane moved forward with the strength of conviction they would not accept defeat, but they would fight this disease together. In my grandmother’s case, a vivacious, beautiful woman brimming with an indomitable Irish spirit, she also set her mind to have a positive attitude no matter what occurred. She always had a long-term goal to look forward to in her mind. She would celebrate when she made it to various landmarks in life, such as her grandchild’s graduation or her 50th wedding anniversary, and then choose a new goal.
Perspective is everything. Be mindful of who you listen to, who you seek advice from and the limiting beliefs in your own mind. Your health and your ability to heal and thrive depend on it.