Radical Remission: Healing Cancer Against The Odds
I've read hundreds of wellness books in the last six years, and I've learned something new from each, but every now and then there is a book that touches me to the point that I can't wait to share it with the world. Radical Remission is one of those books. First hearing about it through Kris Carr, a radical remission case herself, I was intrigued. I had heard stories of people able to overcome their cancers after western medicine could no longer help, but that work was being done to document these stories fascinated me. As soon as Radical Remission arrived, I threw open the cover and started to read.
Kelly Turner became interested in cancer at a young age, after losing an uncle and then a friend. While co-authoring a book at Harvard University years later, Kelly volunteered with cancer patients. It was those experiences that compelled her to earn her masters in oncology research and then the PhD that led to this book
Radical Remission, as defined by Dr. Turner, is "any cancer remission that is statistically unexpected". She explains how surprised she was to find that of all the documented radical remission cases, none of the authors had reported directly asking the survivors why they thought they had healed.
So setting out to interview healers and survivors, Kelly posed the question...
"Why do you think you healed?"
The answers fascinated, empowered, and surprised me.
Dr. Turner, how did you come to work with cancer survivors and how many Radical Remission stories have you collected to this date? 10 years ago I was counseling cancer patients at a major cancer research hospital and helping them with their emotional journeys. By chance, I came across a case of Radical Remission and it made me pause -- had this really happened? Did this person really turn around their Stage 4 cancer?
I decided to do a little bit of research, and I quickly found over 1,000 cases of radical remission in the medical literature. However, no one was looking at these cases as a whole, or investigating them further -- so, I decided to do that. Since then, I have analyzed more than 1,000 written cases of Radical Remission and conducted more than 200 in-depth interviews with Radical Remission survivors from 11 countries.
Why do you think the western medical community is so hesitant to study these radical remission cases? It’s difficult to study Radical Remissions first and foremost because these cases are not tracked in the National Cancer Registry - which is where all of our cancer statistics come from. So, we really have no idea how often these cases are happening. Right now, the only way we have of knowing about a case of Radical Remission is if an oncologist takes about 40 hours of unpaid time to write up a detailed case report and submit it to a medical journal for possible publication - and doctors these days just don’t have the time to do that.
In addition, more than half of the 1,000 cases of Radical Remission already in the medical journals do not contain hypotheses for why the remission may have occurred. In other words, these cases baffle doctors! Doctors don’t know why these people healed, and it’s very hard to study something that you can’t even begin to explain. However, that’s not an excuse to ignore these cases. As scientists, we are obligated to study anomalies - things that don’t behave the way we expect them to - and therefore we are obligated to study Radical Remissions, even though we can’t explain them (at least not yet).
While diet and exercise have certainly played roles in Radical Remission, it really blew me away that so much of the healing came from inside, by healing past hurts or turning inward to intuition. Did this surprise you, too?
Yes, it really did, since I was expecting to find many more physical treatments among Radical Remission survivors. However, over the last 30 years, researchers have begun to understand just how much of an impact our thoughts and emotions have on the internal, chemical state of our bodies.
For example, studies have shown that emotional states like stress, fear, or anger send signals to the master glands in our bodies to release certain hormones – such as cortisol, adrenaline, and epinephrine. These hormones tell our cells that it is time to fight or flee – not rest and repair. As a result, your body turns its attention away from things like digesting nutrients and fighting off illness, and instead raises your blood pressure so you can run from that "tiger."
The good news is that the master glands in your brain also have the ability to release immune-boosting hormones whenever you feel happy or relaxed. These self-produced ‘drugs’ include things like serotonin, dopamine, relaxin, and oxytocin. And when these powerhouse hormones hit your bloodstream, they send signals to your body to make more immune cells. Because of what researchers have discovered about the immediate connection between our emotions and the immune system, it’s no wonder that the people I study pay special attention to their emotions in their quests to get well.
While we are exposed to a number of toxins every day, I am a firm believer in baby steps. I feel that every toxin we remove from our lives helps our bodies to be stronger, whether it be switching out our candles and fragrance detergents to eating more whole foods or making a point to laugh more. Do you agree? Absolutely! A few people can make abrupt, 180-degree changes in their lives, but most of us need to take baby steps. When it comes to detoxifying our homes and our bodies, baby steps make sense because 1) We want these changes to be permanent, not temporary, and 2) Research is indicating that it's not so much about having a completely toxin-free body, but rather making sure that your body is not overloaded with toxins.
We all have a tipping point in our bodies where we go from feeling sluggish to all-out sick, and it's important that we reduce the toxins and stress in our lives so that we can always stay below that tipping point. Over the years I've switched my deodorant, my detergent, my toothpaste, and most recently my shampoo to more organic brands -- and once I find an alternative that works for me, it's easy to just keep buying that alternative.
Dr. Kelly Turner continues to research and document radical remission cases, and has created a database for those interested in learning more about other survivors with particular cancers. Learn more at RadicalRemission.com