Cancer, Inc. Wants You!

An Essay on Healing After Cancer

When I got diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, my cousin wanted to do something for me. He committed to a major athletic challenge and canvassed family and friends for sponsorships. He raised tens of thousands of dollars from all those good people who also wanted to help, and made a hefty donation.

To the pharmaceutical companies.

Meanwhile, a family friend sent me a check for $5k; he told me he imagined what it would feel like for his own daughter to be going through this.

At the time, I was partially-insured and we were living on one moderate income. Keeping the house warm and the kids fed were priorities; I spent many hours of my “free” time negotiating payment plans and scholarships from the hospitals where I was receiving care.

All while good people were sending money to pharmaceutical companies on my behalf.

Trust me, the pharmaceutical companies were getting paid. They didn’t really need the fundraiser.


Remember that time your elected representatives sent your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s future earnings to Lockheed Martin while showing you pictures of children buried in rubble? There are a lot of similarities.

It’s enough to make a person a little cranky (I write this after having been nearly in tears several times this week trying to make sense of the tax information I need to send to the accountant, and that doesn’t even include what I have to pay to stay out of jail).


Cancer, Inc., has pulled an amazing trick. First, they created a celebrity status for their cash cow (when I had a cancer diagnosis, I spent a lot of time talking to a former friend with a Lupus diagnosis, and we both observed the difference in marketing panache).

Then, they created the "Survivorship" world. Treatment over? You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. We need your face on our marketing!

While it wasn’t my preference to pursue conventional treatment for cancer, it was the best option available to me at the time. It was a piece of the puzzle that saved my life, but what was important was that I recognized the limitations of what it had to offer.

I was using dangerous, suppressive drugs to buy myself time in order to make the changes required to become a healthy person, which is something I don’t think I had ever been, really. What I did with that time was the critical part.

So when my treatment was over, I walked away. I refused any drugs that weren’t specifically cancer or transplant or emergency drugs (to my lasting regret I did not refuse Lupron because they scared me in a vulnerable moment, but I’m pleased with all the drugs I DID refuse).

I found the depth of healing offered by homeopathy, and it changed my life. I learned what it meant to be truly healthy, and then, as do most who find themselves transformed, I set out to proselytize.


Which didn’t work.

Ask all those people hiding in the kitchen while earnest young men in suits ring their doorbells. It’s very difficult to get a message across to someone closed to it, no matter how fervent one’s evangelical ardor.

And, let me tell you, Survivorship can be a church. It can be an identity. When I suggested leaving it behind, boy did they get the guns out for the messenger. I found people who hadn’t even really had cancer describing themselves as “survivors” of “pre-diagnoses.”

The celebrity status of “survival” created membership in an exclusive club, and a lot of people did not want to leave.


But a lot of people do want out of Cancer, Inc; are you one of them? I have met many people who say, as I do, that they don’t describe themselves as “survivors” of cancer; that they forget they ever had it.

I don’t forget, because the process got me where I am, and it motivated me to start writing publicly in order to communicate with the people who were cheering me on, but I don’t identify with it.

It was an ordeal, and it made me, but there are many other paths in the dark. In a lot of ways, I consider cancer to have been an easy one, because it was forced on me. I never had to choose the moment; it chose me.

I had to heal, or I was going to die. I had to change just to keep up. Cancer, Inc., didn’t really want me to. They wanted me tethered to their “cure,” on life support.

But I want to live. And that meant walking away from their “Survivorship,” and embracing Thriver-ship. It’s not a battle I won over cancer. It’s a triumph I attained, over myself.


Been through cancer treatment? Let’s pick up the pieces together, and leave it behind when it no longer serves you. Going through cancer treatment? Let me support you. Afraid of cancer? Let’s talk about it, and see if we can identify the dynamic patterns in your health and life that create that susceptibility.

Let’s find the Deep Healing, Without Drugs, that lies underneath it all.


Until the end of February, my Navigating Your Healing Journey program of shamanic coaching is 20% off the list price, and you can lock this price in for the next 12 months by scheduling your FREE Embark call to learn more. But don’t delay; when the calendar flips, this offer closes.

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