Finding the Healing Metaphor in a Cancer Case
A chiropractor referred the lovely young newlywed in her early 30s to me for supportive services when she received the diagnosis of multiple myeloma. She had had pain in her hip for quite some time; it had not responded to chiropractic care. As the pain increased and she began to limp, further tests led to the diagnosis. At the time she came to see me, she had tumors in the pelvic area and had to walk with a cane.
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Besides showing how a metaphor produced by the clients own psyche can become the focal point for healing, this case really demonstrates how once the intention to heal is set in motion, amazing meaningful coincidences may occur -- what Jung calls synchronicities. These are as much a part of the healing process as the comfort a client receives through energy work, relaxation, and emotional support.
With this client, I alternated sessions of Reiki energy healing with meditative counseling. I worked with her intensively for perhaps six months, although we stayed in touch for many years after, including during the period she was in isolation for bone marrow transplant. Although I taught her several meditation techniques, the primary one was the ally method of Dr. Irving Oyle, his version of Carl Jungs active imagination. With it, one can become aware of three inner guides corresponding to different parts of the self. It is similar to having a spontaneous daydream and interacting with imaginary characters. They can appear in many different forms, from human to animal to splashes of color or geometric forms; the form they assume is part of their message, expressed as a symbol or metaphor. This technique allows the deeper psyche to communicate with the conscious mind in a fluid, enjoyable way.
As so often happens, two of the three guides or allies were polarized and in conflict in this womans psyche. She saw herself at the beach, where she loved her guide the comfortable, comforting blue beach blanket. On the other hand, she intensely disliked the crab she saw nearby. Having been born under the astrological sign of Cancer, the Crab, she immediately associated this crab -- guide with a negative force that had given her the disease we call cancer. Over time, I helped to integrate the wisdom of these two guides. I helped her to see the weaknesses inherent in the beach blanket: it could get walked on, pushed around; it was passive and at the mercy of other beings and forces. This perspective prompted her to share that she had, in fact, been involved in a somewhat abusive relationship before she met her loving, supportive husband. I also helped her to recognize the strengths inherent in the crab: it could run from danger; it could hide or fight if necessary; and it could grasp what it wanted in its claws. Not surprisingly, the astrological Cancer is known for its tenacity. The crab could actually help the blanket by taking the blanket where it wanted to go and by protecting the blanket. It was also clear that the client needed to embrace her innate crab like qualities of protectiveness and tenacity in order to survive the ordeal of her cancer, which eventually included a bone marrow transplant during which she almost died of an infection. She thought about our work while she was in the hospital, and the metaphors she had produced and integrated helped her to hang on to life.
The crab symbolized another amazing strand of healing in this womans life. When she became ill, she wanted more than anything to become a mother. Sadly, her doctors told her the drugs and treatments they were giving her would almost inevitably make her infertile. She gained weight and felt pregnant, but she was told it was just the drugs causing her to balloon. She tried to give herself a pregnancy test but spilled it, several times. After several months of this, she had a pelvic exam by a doctor looking for tumors, who felt nothing in her uterus. Finally, one day as I was giving her a Reiki treatment, I felt impelled to tell her to go home and rest, and that she would have a revelation. She called the next day to say that she had been unable to rest, because she had gotten more and more agitated about her weight gain. She got up to take another pregnancy test and this one told her she was pregnant!
Now her doctors told her she was actually four months pregnant that is, at the point where they could not ethically tell her to terminate. They strongly encouraged her to end the pregnancy in
order to save her own life, but they had to respect her determination to have the baby. So, like the maternal crab, her unconscious had hidden the pregnancy until it was safe to make it known! And the client had been utterly tenacious in her desire and intention to become a mother, no matter what. And there is still more to this story!
The night she called me, I happened to hear a news story about a new direction in research for multiple myeloma. There was some tentative evidence that pregnancy hormones could stop the disease. That is just what happened to my client. She went into remission while she was pregnant and delivered a healthy baby. She also had a second child some time after, and at that time, the cancer recurred and she had the bone marrow transplant. The last time I saw her, she
was cancer-free and the joyful mother of two beautiful daughters.
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