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Dad Asks How to Make Imagery for Son with Bone Cancer

28 Aug

Dear Belleruth:

First of all, as a hypnotherapist, I know for a fact that guided imagery is very helpful, and I greatly appreciate everything that your company is all about.

My question pertains particularly to guided imagery for children. It seems to me that they could benefit more from guided imagery tailored to how children see things, with wording that is more simplified for their mind level.

I was wondering your opinion on the subject, as well as seeking advice on creating my own custom tape for my son. Andraez was just recently diagnosed with metastasized osteosarcoma. The doctors are talking Chemo, of course, as well as amputation of his arm and lung surgery. I immediately took him with me to Beijing to get an Eastern opinion, as I've heard some very good things, where I found that they would never consider losing the arm or doing the surgery.

But perhaps more importantly, I created a custom imagery tape for him, based primarily on his inputs; his pictures of what the cancer looks like, attack cell armies and fighters, the healing and rebuilding process, and finally a detailed slide show of all the things he wants to accomplish in his future. Self love, happiness, strength, etc, are used heavily throughout. Anyway, I sure would like to hear from you. 

Oh, by the way, he sees his Gameboy as his control room, has removed the old program,(the part in his life where his cancer began and the weakened immune system), and installed a new very powerful cancer fighting program (game), which contains the imagery, affirmations etc. - a kind of "side line therapy".

In real life, when playing the game Lord of the Rings, there's music in the background that he finds very inspiring. I've used this music for his tape. He really likes listening to this.
 
I'd also like to know your opinion on Cycling tapes , ones that repeat short bursts,(perhaps 5 minutes) of affirmations, cycled about 20 minutes apart throughout the night. This is my next project.

Thanks so much.
Gordy

Dear Gordy:

This is pretty amazing, what you’ve done with this. Wow! Hopped on a plane to Beijing, did you? Andraez has quite the committed Dad. I hope he is doing well, and I hope you continue to consult with his more Western-oriented docs, too.

In looking at the way you went about creating the imagery for your son, I have nothing to add to improve it in any way. You worked with his images and ideas about the cancer; chose a metaphor that makes absolute sense to him with music that he loves and finds motivational. And you educated him about the body’s natural cancer-fighting process with slides, so he could get the right idea for his symbolic fight for health. (There are some great cellular pictures in a beautiful photography book called The Body Victorious, by the way. It’s out of print but still accessible on the internet here: Body Victorious: The Illustrated Story of Our Immune System and Other Defences of the Human Body ).

What you’ve done reminds me very much of what Patricia Norris did years ago with her young cancer patient, Garrett Porter, who had an inoperable brain tumor. It’s all written up in a book called, I Choose Life: The Dynamics of Visualization and Biofeedback by the two of them: Patricia A. Norris & Garrett Porter.

I’m not familiar with any research on cycling tapes, but it certainly seems to make some inherent sense. I assume the idea is to wait for the sleeper to reach a certain level of receptive, delta wave sleep and then zap him with an affirmation... my only concern would be if, because it starts and stops, it keeps waking him up and disrupting the healing flow of sound sleep. Let me know how you think it worked out. And if you have any more information on this technique, I’d be interested in learning more.

Good luck. Andraez is a lucky guy to have such a devoted Pop.

All best,
Belleruth

Ed. Note:  Andraez eventually succumbed to bone cancer, but if you want to see how his father made something beautiful and lasting from his devastating loss, click here to check out his blog.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award