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14 year old with bone cancer uses imagery

15 Mar
A 14-yr-old, diagnosed with bone cancer, uses imagery to lower her blood counts enough to rule out her scheduled chemotherapy, so she can go to her favorite amusement park with friends..
This story came from an exuberant young social worker, one of the participants in my workshop this weekend, at Omega at the Crossings in Austin Texas (a totally gorgeous and magically spiritual place overlooking a misty lake and green valleys in Texas hill country).

When Jennifer was 14 she was diagnosed with bone cancer and had to undergo rigorous chemotherapy every three weeks. Before each treatment, she had her blood drawn to determine if her counts were high enough for her to tolerate chemo. They always were.

She was very adept at intuitively creating her own, spontaneous guided imagery to help her body fight the cancer and to better tolerate chemo. She enjoyed using it and did very well with it.

As summer approached, she desperately wanted to go to Six Flags, a local amusement park, with her friends. The only window of opportunity for her to do so was the week she was due to have her chemo, and she knew that if she were to have treatment as scheduled, she’d be too sick to go.

So, enterprising young 14-year-old that she was, she decided that she would use guided imagery to lower her platelet count, in order to disqualify her for chemo that week. She warned her mother that she would be dropping her counts, but not to worry - this would only be long enough to score below par on her blood work; she promised to reverse her handiwork as soon as the test was over.

Sure enough, Jennifer’s counts were too low for chemo and it had to be postponed. She went to Six Flags, then had her chemo the following week, as promised.

We are not recommending this to anyone, but it’s a great demonstration of the power of imagery. And, by the way, I know of several chemo patients who managed to raise their counts, just by focusing on the number of blood cells they were aiming for. It never fails to impress me, even though I’ve seen it a lot.
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