By Pip Cornall
When Grace Gawler and I reconnected in 2007 via an article I had written in the Sentient Times, I was living in Ashland, Oregon. My article was called Restorative Justice – The New Hope for Revitalizing Community. The goal was to educate the community about the benefits of a’ restorative’ system rather than a ‘punitive’ one with an end towards reducing violence.
My work had been reducing gender based violence and among other things I helped boys in juvenile prisons. Grace had spent a lifetime coaching cancer patients to choose healing pathways that drew from the best of all medical systems – an integrative approach. Her initial success with a dying husband when she was in her early twenties received widespread press and they soon established a centre helping thousands of cancer patients.
I’ve often seen human violence as a cancer – when cells on the global body attack each other and ultimately – destroy the host. Working alongside Grace I witness the ‘punitive’ mentality playing out in cancer healing. A restorative approach to healing would be much kinder to body/mind and involve tried strategies such as ‘convalescence.’
I’ve seen tragic cases in juvenile prisons yet my work there has rewarded me with deep spiritual moments. It was not the boys who were a cancer on society but the mentality underpinning a society that glorified violence and other sordid dysfunctions as attributes of a ‘real man.’
Similarly cancer work is not for the faint-hearted. Sadly in past months we’ve known some lovely people who have succumbed to the disease. It always lands hard and one wishes it had been otherwise – that we’d been in a position to have more influence over decisions made.
When you’ve worked at the ‘coal face’ of cancer guidance and healing as Grace has for 35 years, you have a grasp of what will work for this certain patient and a wide toolbag of skills to draw upon. Disturbing is the trend for patients to take advice promoted by internet ‘sensations’ – many have little experience or appropriate qualifications for caring for and guiding large numbers of cancer patients. This is dangerous and constitutes medical fraud.
Happily our new Integrated Cancer Solutions trust will make it possible to assist more patients with trustworthy and proven integrative strategies.
My goal for this post would be that we stop rushing for a moment to remember how fragile life is and for us to collectively wake up. Perhaps when we stop hurting each other cancer as a disease will also disappear?
The song “Fragile’ by Sting addresses it elegantly and may help us to ‘slow down.’