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Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with Exceptional Patients Paperback – July 22, 1998
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"Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and get this amazing book that explains how you can 'think' yourself sick or well...Every family should have a copy. It can be a lifesaver." -- Ann Landers
From the Back Cover
Unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system. The truth is: love heals. Miracles happen to exceptional patients every day—patients who have the courage to love, those who have the courage to work with their doctors to participate in and influence their own recovery.
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Still, I was concerned that the evidence presented in the book, while heart warming and convincing sounding, was purely anecdotal. Had any proper studies on his methods been carried out and published? Somewhat to my surprise, I found the following article: Gellert GA, Maxwell RM, Seigel BS: "Survival of breast cancer patients receiving adjucntive psychological support therapy: a 10-yr follow-up study." J Clin Oncol 1993; 11:66-69. In this study thirty-four women with breast cancer attending the ECaP program were matched with comparable patients (age, stage of cancer, etc.) from tumor registries. At ten years, there were no differences between the groups in terms of survival (approximately 40% alive at the end of the study).
How disappointing! I have read that Bernie Segal dismissed the study's methods, and hence its results. My reaction to that is twofold. First of all, as he was one of the principal authors of the study, he had control over the study's methods. It seems disingenuous to criticize its methods after its completion, given its negative results, especially when he had control over the design of the study. Would he have found its methods acceptable had it shown positive results? Secondly, even if the study's methods were less than ideal (A larger number of patients in the study would have been preferable.), why has he not restudied the matter during the last fifteen years? My guess is that he lacks confidence that a second study would produce more positive results. What other explanation can there be? In summary, I find the results of this study, combined with the lack of a repeated study by Dr. Segal, absolutely damning with regards to Dr. Segal's theories and methods. Anecdotal evidence, which is what is presented in the book, since it can be chosen selectively and distorted, is no evidence at all.
Somewhat disturbed by the above research, I read what other studies that I could find on psychological adjunctive treatments for cancer. Based upon Dr. Segal's, and others', books, it has become conventional wisdom that a positive attitude improves one's survival duration and odds. Sadly, it appears that the evidence (1: Cunningham et al Psychooncology 1998: 7:508-517; 2: Goodwin et al; NE J of Med; 2001; 345:1719-1726; and others) does not support this theory.
Regarding my personal case, while I have not persued psychological methods (those espoused by Dr. Segal or those promoted by others) in dealing with my cancer, I have done extremely well. Thanks to chemotherapy and the quality care by my physicians and nurses, more than five years after the diagnosis, I am still alive. While the cancer has progressed, and I am not expected to live another year with it, I cannot complain about how well I have done: only 2-3% of colon cancer patients with cancer stage IV disease on the best available chemotherapy survive so long. Indeed, had I enrolled in one of Dr. Segal's "exceptional cancer patient" groups, or even had I privately battled cancer with the methods that he describes, then my case might be touted as proof of the validity of his methods. So much for anecdotal evidence!
In summary, I find that the book promotes disproven ideas.
My late husband and I had the blessing of attending Dr. Siegel's seminars and workshops back so many years ago and my and my hubby's outlook into his disease were forever changed. We had been handed a sentence by an oncologist that had no understanding that his job was first to heal. Dr Siegel changed that and I attribute to his teachings much of the time we had together that was far beyond the initial prognosis. My heart is grateful even after two decades since my beloved went on to meet the Lord because I recall how this loving doctor Siegel made a difference to us.
Today I find myself buying this book for one of my parents who has been diagnosed with Cancer. The journey begins anew.
Blessings upon all of you who are confronted with an illness that is threatening your life or the life of someone beloved to you. -- Please let me know if you find my review helpful. It is always nice to know writing these reviews makes a difference.
I have now been a healthcare worker for well over 30 years, and I am seeing a resurgence of this attitude among institutions. Today's idea is to see the "patient" as a "customer" and to sell fear, (as I see it). We've turned back to encouraging passivity. The lifesaving measures for you or your loved one may be inside the walls of a healthcare facility, or maybe not. ASK QUESTIONS! On the other hand, that alternative practitioner could be preying upon the uninformed. ASK QUESTIONS.
What I see as important about what Bernie is saying is that you must find out how you "see it", rather than buying whatever we (mainstream or alternative) have to sell you. The best way to survive the medical maze is to participate in your recovery, in your very life. Your specific answers are not here, but ways to seek them are indeed inside this volume.
Bernie's writing is enlightening and positive, though not in a simplistic "put on a smile" way. I believe this is a must read for those living with cancer and for their families.
A supposedly scientific study stated that positivity does not statistically improve survival rates. Who gives a damn? I, personally, would rather have a short, happy life than a long, miserable one. When I come near death, joy is what I want for myself and for my family.