August 22, 2008

Cancer: How One Client Overcame All the Odds and Got to See the Elephants

By Bunning, Wendy

Abstract This article explores one possible method of using hypnosis with breast cancer and addresses how to work with the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of a client to restore balance within the body.

Basic Premise

When we are dealing with life-threatening illnesses like cancer, and indeed with any chronic illness, it is of critical importance that we look at the whole person and tackle all aspects of the disease. These may include

* Physical aspects

* Emotional aspects

* Mental aspects

* Spiritual aspects

Physical Aspects

The physical aspects of disease include diet, nutrition, supplements, and detoxification of the body. These should only be addressed with someone qualified in nutrition such as a nutritionist or naturopath. This is most important. The body needs to be in peak condition to begin to deal with something like a cancer. Medical doctors, surgery, chemotherapy, and medications also fall into this category, and all need to be taken into account by the therapist.

Emotional Aspects

Hypnosis allows us to deal with the emotional content associated with the cancer, and to get to the source of the disease within the body. In his book, Answer Cancer (1995) Stephen Parkhill writes about the 'Subsequent Sensitising Event' (SSE). This is what we call the trigger and usually occurs within 18 months to 2 years prior to the onset of cancer. This could be a physical fall, an emotional shock, the loss of a job, partner, or status. Anything that produces shock can be the trigger. This can be viewed as either 'the tip of the iceberg' or 'the straw that breaks the camel's back'. It is the trigger, not the root cause.

One of the premises of Parkhill's book is that there is a basic life law - the law of compounding. He states, "The law of compounding shows us that compounding events over time bloom into progressively more vivid symptoms". These can eventually result in disease. He goes on to explain that when we trace the SSE back to its original source, the 'Initial Sensitising Event' (ISE), and regress to the cause, we can find the original, foundational belief programs running in the subconscious mind. It is these belief programs that have wreaked havoc within our bodies to create disease.

Mental Aspects

The mental aspects include stress and stress-producing negative thoughts and beliefs. Preparing simple visualisation CDs can be of great benefit, so that the client can use them at home daily. Relaxation gives the body a break from the stress and worry that cancer brings. Visualisation techniques allow healing to begin and can bring about profound shirts.

In his book, The Hidden Messages in Water (2004) Dr Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist, provides some interesting research. He photographed water crystals that had been exposed to different words, feelings, and thoughts. When exposed to positive words thoughts, and feelings, the crystals were beautifully formed, but conversely simply formed blobs when exposed to negative thoughts and words. This is worth bearing in mind when we start to look at self- talk and the power of visualisation. Our bodies are around 70% water, which begs the question, what are our thoughts and internal dialogues doing to our bodies? It is critical that we utilise healing visualisation and also target negative self-talk. Hypnosis is the perfect tool to give the body 'healing time".

Spiritual Aspects

The spiritual aspects involve working with individual belief systems and allowing clients to connect with a higher self, angels, god, and other super-human influences.. This may include prayer, meditation, or whatever the client feels most appropriate.

Case History

In her own words Diane, my client, reports:

It all began on the 27th January 2006 when I first went for a routine ultrasound and mammogram and was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the right breast.

After the initial shock, anger, and tears I gathered myself together and, with a strong supportive partner at my side, we began to work very hard on research, countless specialist and doctors' appointments, and our own study into cancer treatments. I came to the decision I was not going to go down the 'Doctors' mainstream track' of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy...that was out for me.

The specialists did not give me a great deal of hope - with only a 2% chance of chemotherapy working, and the breast cancer returning after all auxiliary lymph nodes had been removed, and possibly a full mastectomy.

Because of the system, we still had to go through the medical process but asked doctors many questions about their cancer treatments. In a short time I went down the natural alternative path to recovery.

So together with my partner we embarked on building my immune system, beginning first with a mild detox program then continuing with rest, sleep, lots of supplements, raw foods, diet, change of thinking, new mind tapes, the power of prayer, and never never giving up or disbelieving.

It was at this time that I met Diane. My first step was getting to know about Diane, her background, her goals and what she wanted to achieve from our sessions together. Looking at goals with someone who has cancer may seem strange. Wouldn't her goal be to get well? Everyone's goals are different and some clients only want help to 'manage' their cancer treatment. It became clear from our conversation that this client was 100% committed to achieving wellness. At the top of her list of goals was 'to return to Thailand to see the elephants'. And what a powerful resource that proved to be!

Our next step, as with many clients, was to assist with self- esteem, boundary setting, and assertiveness, challenging negative beliefs and thought patterns, as well as teaching some self- hypnosis. Once these learnings were established and being utilised we then moved onto some visualisation techniques to promote wellness. This can create profound changes in itself and gets the mind off negatives and looking forward to what it will be like when wellness is achieved. Often clients with cancer are tuned into fear, anger, pain, and sadness. Visualisation using self-hypnosis, as previously stated, creates 'healing time' and once clients have learned how to do this it can be done easily in their own homes. Spiritual aspects can also be incorporated here to suit the individual client.

This accomplished, we set about getting to the bottom of the cancer, not just the trigger, but the root cause. I like to use a particular type of regression called Time Based Therapy or Time Line Therapy which allows the client to slip back easily and effortlessly to the root cause, or ISE, of the issues. I began looking at what had happened in the previous 18 months to two years, prior to the diagnosis of cancer. In Diane's case the SSE was a fall, which had produced considerable injury and feelings of embarrassment. I then followed the SSE back to the ISE. It is not uncommon for clients to go back to 3 or 4 years of age, sometimes in utero. Once the ISE had been reached, I was then ready to work on the emotional healing process which is often rapid and profound. Clients often report feeling free, light, and as though a weight has been lifted.

Diane described her experience as follows:

The hypnotherapy I underwent was a great experience. I was taken into Time Line Therapy. It helped me with issues and experiences which were difficult for me to deal with, without the help of an experienced counsellor and hypnotherapist. I actually felt as though a terrific weight had been lifted off my shoulders, immediately. As time passed I experienced even more of a positive result, because it seemed to continue to work for some time afterwards as I was beginning to get on with daily living and events.

We were also lucky to find a private natural clinic which I attended for many weeks. This clinic is run by qualified doctors and provides 'natural chemotherapy'.

Diane elected to not have surgery or indeed any mainstream assistance including chemotherapy, even though she was urged to do so by doctors. This created a considerable amount of alarm within me, but as a therapist I had to be mindful not to place my own beliefs and expectations onto the client and to work towards Diane's goals and objectives.

Diane concluded:

I have now had three comparison ultrasound films performed, all of which showed a gradual shrinkage of the tumour primary site with lymph node involvement. Finally this week (as at 21st June, 2006) my 4th ultrasound and physical examination has shown no signs of cancer or lymph node involvement. I am cancer free - a miracle by treating the cause not the symptom.


This client has confronted this issue, breast cancer, from every angle - physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. When we align these four key areas and address each simultaneously we give ourselves the very best opportunity to heal. And in this case the hard work paid off, big time.

Diane did get to see the elephants, and at our last conversation in November, 2007, was about to embark on another trip to Thailand. There was still no trace of any cancer.


Emoto, M. (2004). The hidden messages in water. Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing

Parkhill, S.C. (1995). Answer cancer. DeLand, Florida: Omni Hypnosis Publishing

Wendy Sunning

Hypnotherapist, Sydney

Wendy Burning is a clinical hypnotherapist counsellor, NLP & EFT practitioner who has been in private practice in Sydney's Upper North Shore since 1997.

Copyright Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists Autumn 2008

(c) 2008 Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.