During the last few years I have heard a lot of grumbling from Scientologists worldwide that there seems to be an inordinate number of members with cancer and other serious illnesses. Most recently, I was asked to send money and “positive postulates” to help an independent field auditor who has leukemia. I don’t know if the illness ratio is different amongst Scientologists than society at large. I do know that abuse and oppression most certainly can predispose illness, no matter which side of the coin you are on.
Many authors have documented how destructive Scientology and its misapplications can be. I have received numerous reports about the large number of seriously ill individuals who were upper level Scientologists and who were burdened by the laborious grinding techniques in today’s Church of Scientology. I don’t know that the upper levels are run much differently in the independent field, except for a few who were trained in my day. There have been broadcasts on the internet, TV and the radio that most of the upper levels deal with exorcism and can be “hazardous to one’s health.” In fact, it takes a careful and experienced case supervisor to guide a client through the risk factors to a successful completion of those levels. Lawrence Wright reported in his book “Going Clear” that Hubbard was tormented in his final days by upper level phenomena. He did not die in peace. That being said, there are usually a number of divergent factors that cause severe illness and cancer. Cancer doesn’t drop into a life that is trouble free.
The root of the word “cancer” is interesting. Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates is said to have named masses of cancerous cells karkinos — Greek for crab. Cancer is a creeping crawling disease that infiltrates like a crab with many legs. Some cancers travel quicker than others. Malignant tumors harden like a crab shell and the pain is severe similar to being grabbed by razor sharp claws. Scientology, Christian Science and other Science of the Mind groups discount heredity, diet, lifestyle, the body, the brain and other causal factors. It is true that the spirit can heal, that mind over matter does exist, but results have a lot to do with whose spirit and whose mind is attempting to do the healing. Not everyone has the gift of healing or mental powers to overcome illness by thought alone. Many Scientologists do not believe that the spirit of God can heal, which denies them a proven healer. A holistic approach, meaning whole or balanced, is what is needed to help one recover from a serious illness.
The Stress Factors of Serious Illness:
When one has cancer or any serious illness the following factors are present:
- Loss of control
- Loss of or vacillating hope
- Unwanted aloneness
Loss of control – A serious illness disrupts your life and plans. It is as if a great obelisk has landed from the sky on your head. It is a dramatic change from regular activities to attention being thrust onto yourself and the body. There are suddenly new faces in your life, and the people around you change.
Some friends take it badly, and some friends leave you because they cannot confront their own immortality. Time alone is needed to sort things out and feel what you need to feel.
No one likes being out of control. There are scores of professionals and the well-intentioned who tell you what is wrong with you and what you need to do. Doctors and nurses poke and prod with hands and needles. They use giant machinery that emits harmful rays that can affect your body for years afterwards. The medicines used are poison with ungodly side effects. All the sudden changes in your life add up to loss of control.
Loss or vacillating hope – Serious illness is a constant negotiation between hope on the one hand and cold hard facts on the other. Hope vacillates depending upon what the doctors say and what tests reveal. Time sense becomes compacted, distorted, and acute when you are told you have only months, or days, to live. One day you think that you recovering and then a bad number from a blood test evaporates hope. Your future and mood go hand in hand with the test numbers and how you feel that day. One patient at the Gilda Radner cancer support group I attended with my sister thought he was going to get a new liver. The next day tests showed that the cancer had metastasized to his lungs and he no longer qualified for a transplant. His hope was crushed, he died ten days later. Another group member at Gilda’s found out about proton therapy, which cured his type of cancer. He is alive and well. In between those two extremes there are many shades of hope that change hues continually.
Unwanted Aloneness – When you get news about a serious illness it is important to contemplate and digest all the ramifications. You need time alone to get through anger, fear, the feelings of injustice, and any feeling of victimization. Well-wishers might preach “being positive.” Ah yes, the prison of positive thinking… Dealing with the raw and overwhelming emotions that cancer can bring might leave you unable to think at all, let alone think positively. There is no right and wrong way to be. It is important to feel what you need to feel, the emotions are real – being alone is necessary.
However, there is another factor: “unwanted aloneness.” There is a natural separation of those who are healthy and from those who are seriously ill. Ordinary life is thrown out the window for the duration of the illness; it can last for months, years or until death. There is also stigma and guilt about cancers that people perceive to be your own fault, like lung cancer if one smokes. Even with friends and family in the same room, you can feel alone. Unless you have been there, you don’t get it. That’s why it is great idea to go to a cancer support group and talk to others with a similar condition. They truly understand. Also the facilitators of the group have information specific to the needs of the illness.
There are three factors that are seriously affected by illness: Money, Sex, and Death.
These 3 factors come up regularly in life and in sessions, but the concerns about them are more prevalent and acute when a serious illness occurs. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer, it is natural to confront death – it looms with cancer and the risks that go along with the illness and treatment. It is a good idea to study death from all angles; see what religions have to say, read classical wisdom and texts from the learned. It is not a time to be glib and reduce death to triteness, “Oh, I’ll just die and pick up another body…” That is inane childlike logic. That way of thinking trivializes the normal fear of the unknown. On the other hand, it is of no benefit to be terrified – succumbing to fear diminishes death as a poetic expression of life.
Money can be a big problem for people who become seriously ill. Most people have to work to live. Fortunately, there are charitable organizations that can help. Hospitals, too. Social workers at hospitals and cancer support groups can be of great assistance as well.
Sexual activity during treatment is often diminished or next to impossible. Post treatment effects can also be a factor depending upon what and where the illness was.
The six factors above create undue stress and problems of long duration. And, of course, there is physical pain, plain and simple. Diminishment in activity, lack of achievement and no time to do what you want to do can create a feeling of apathy and loss of control. Serious Illness smashes your life calendar. Life gets centered on doctors, nurses, machines, blood tests and treatment. Life becomes compressed and stressed. It is no easier on the family member, or for the friend who is the primary caregiver. There are caregiver support groups that meet at the same times as the patients groups.
MENDS PROGRAM: Mend your Soul
It is found that all five activities of the program are beneficial for recovery.
MENDS is an acronym for:
M Medicine (and/or Herbs)
Medicine: When someone has become seriously ill medicine is needed. Scientologists, especially those indoctrinated in the Miscavige era, have implanted phobias against doctors and medicine. “Seriously Ill PCs and Pre-OTs,” a bulletin Hubbard wrote in 1969, says the opposite – when doctors and medicine are needed, then use them. Hubbard used doctors and medicine when he and crew members were ill.
LRH wrote a note in a folder that I supervised. It was about a woman who wouldn’t wear her glasses because she thought that they decreased her confront. She wanted to confront her way through her near blind state. He wrote, “She does not wear her glasses to ‘confront,’ but can’t see without them, therefore she is not confronting.” The same goes for medicine. If there is the possibility of grave danger then medicine is needed to confront it. It is a tool, like glasses, that improves confront. Being real is part of confronting life.
All spirit or all mind is a limited view. Even Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, a belief system which forbade medicine, took some at the end of her life. A friend of mine died because her husband believed that all she needed was auditing and herbs. By the time they sought medical help her cancer had spread throughout her body and she died. Despite that, when he was told that he had prostate cancer he went the spiritual/ natural path until his bladder nearly burst on a business trip. He would have died, too, if not for his alert and intelligent employer. She got him to the hospital and convinced him to get the proper medical care. Medicine has its time and place. When someone has cancer there shouldn’t be much of a debate. Divine intervention or miracles do happen, but from my experience it helps to use all the tools available: spiritual, mental, and medicinal.
Illnesses, serious mental traumas, and nervous breakdowns often result in hopelessness or from depression. It is important to see a doctor and get any needed medicine for that as well. What is worse, the temporary effect of the medicine or dying due to lack of sleep or the inability to eat? Sedatives were used on the Apollo when needed. I prefer people go to a doctor who is a naturopath, but sometimes stronger medicine is needed.
It takes time and testing to see what works well; administering herbs and medicine is an art, not a science. Everyone’s body is different, with blood type, genetics and physiology all playing a role. Medicines and herbs do not act the same on everyone; therefore it is vital the medicines be adjusted to the individual.
Some herbs have been proven effective for various conditions. St. John Wort, Valerian Root, Incan Lapacho (Pau de Arco) and other plant based remedies can be used for stress, sleep and overall well-being. An array of vitamins and herbs for male and female health problems are available at your health food store. Medicinal marijuana has been tested and is proven to reduce tumors and pain in cancer patients and other serious illnesses. It also helps stimulate appetite. Eating is often a problem for the seriously ill.
There have been wonderful advances in treatment for previously incurable illnesses, such as cancers, AIDS, and hepatitis. My sister was diagnosed with Stage 4, incurable melanomas in her leg. She started on a new medicine 9 months ago. It worked! The techs who did her PET scan thought that she never had cancer in the first place. She considers marijuana was the difference between her results and those of the other patients who did not respond as well. Maybe it was. What is worse, a rigid and legalistic view about drug use or what works? Jesus was upbraided by the religious leaders of His day for forgiving the sins of a cripple. Only God can forgive sins they had said. He asked, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk ‘? When the cripple walked there was nothing more to say. (Matthew 9:5) The same goes for drugs, what is easier – to use the drug and get well, or don’t use it and die?
Exercise: Exercise helps the body. It gets the heart rate up and helps your mood. It is important that body chemicals circulate and endorphins move through your body. Endorphins in conjunction with any needed medicine or herbs increase your sense of well-being. A sense of well-being makes day to day stresses more manageable. Exercise also helps prolongs life span due to increased oxygenation. Increased circulation relaxes the body and helps you sleep. If you’re seriously physically ill you obviously can’t go out for a run, but whatever can be done to get the body moving should be done.
Nutrition: Nutrition in conjunction with exercise encourages the body’s health. Nutrition and exercise are the key factors to longevity. A healthy food regimen can, in itself, change blood levels or even help cure many illnesses and diseases. It is a known fact that sugar and alcohol raise sugar levels and long-term use brings on depression, along with diseases such as diabetes. Current studies link overuse of sugar and sugar substitutes to cancer.
Many Scientologists still smoke. Hubbard was a chain smoker with breathing problems and allergies. In his era non-smokers were the exception. When science journals made it obvious that smoking was dangerous to health he did some minimal testing on the crew to prove the scientists studies wrong. He took smokers blood pressure before and after a cigarette and saw no visible difference. From that he concluded that smoking was OK. Authority figures are copied, he smoked, the crew smoked and it was copied down the organization. With all the information available it is an anathema to one’s health to smoke. It adversely affects vitamins, diet, oxygen and any nutritional program attempted.
Dialogue: Dialogue refers to counseling and communication about experiences and problems. Counseling is important to relieve stress and perhaps find and eliminate the triggers that could have caused illness, depression, hopelessness, anger and other emotional problems. Pastors, psychologists, licensed social workers and other health care facilitators are trained to listen well and provide guidance. Scientologists prefer an auditor, which is fine if the auditor has a good track record, especially in healing.
Directed communication helps relieve stress and sort things out. Group therapy also has benefits. Those with the same or similar condition have an intimate understanding that no one else has. The commonality can help heal and is soothing to say the least. It is important to learn what triggers moods so that you can be cognizant and put whatever control you can into your life to alleviate stress. It is vital to your health to strive to be healthy in your mental and spiritual environment. The telling and retelling of your story to a caring and compassionate person is essential. Those that believe are encouraged to learn meditative prayer and dialogue with God.
Socialization: Socialization means getting out and doing extroverting and healthy activities. Isolation and individualism are proven to increase an apathetic or melancholy nature. If your illness is such that you cannot get out, then have people come to you. A pet can be comfort to those who are bed ridden. Exercise and socialization can be combined by taking classes. Activity is dependent upon your level of movement and mobility. Hobbies, clubs, charity work, church activities, bingo, movies, lunch with friends, etc., are all vital to getting out of oneself. Contact is needed to mend your soul.
A holistic and caring approach is needed for serious illness. I have had considerable success doing the MENDS Program. I also incorporate prayer and God’s intervention. I confess I did this even when I was a Flag auditor. Healings did occur. My viewpoint is that God plus your own strength and dynamics is greater than your own.