Step One: Overcoming Diagnosis Shock
Something happens when someone receives a diagnosis – something on the emotional level. Although we are mostly not aware of this, it triggers a cascade of powerful events. There is a term for this, Diagnosis Shock and one of the most crucial steps in starting the journey back to health is to understand this cascade and to quickly bring it to a halt.
Let’s use a real-life Cancer example to explain this:
Some years ago, I went with one of my local clients to an oncology appointment. My client, Jane, had not been feeling well for some time. The appointment was to hear the results of some recently completed diagnostic work. I always make a point to take really good notes at appointments such as this one, so the following conversation is nearly word-for-word:
Doctor: I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you have cancer. You have stomach cancer and unfortunately it is serious.
Jane: What does that mean? Am I going to die?
Doctor: Well, it is serious. We have to start treatment right away. There is no time to lose. We can do the blood work and check your heart to see if you can survive the treatment. We can do this today. If the tests come back okay, we can start treatment tomorrow.
Jane: Oh my God! How can this be? I know I have not been feeling well for a while, but I had no idea it was anything this serious.
Doctor: I’m sorry, but sometimes the symptoms of these cancers do not give us any idea of just how serious they are. Are we ready to go get started on those tests? There really is no time to lose.
Jane: What are my chances? You still did not answer my question. Am I going to die from this cancer?
Doctor: Honestly, I don’t know. We will do everything we can to save you and get you well.
Jane, clearly panicked now: How long have I got? How much time?
Doctor: I don’t really know. This is a very serious cancer. You might have anywhere from six months to a year or more. No one can say for sure.
As she heard the doctor’s words I could literally see Jane’s vibrancy leave her body. It was like watching the life leaking from many tiny holes all throughout her body. I stopped the conversation for a moment and had her just take a couple of deep, slow breaths with me. (Emotional first aid.)
There is no need to recount more details from that appointment. Clearly, Jane had walked into the doctor’s office, not feeling great, and with understandable apprehension. She knew it was possible that she had cancer. Who would not be frightened? Before the appointment, despite not looking particularly well, she did not look like a person who was dying. After the appointment, she did.
Jane looked like someone who had just received a death sentence. Her breathing had gotten shallow. I could see beads of sweat on her forehead and she complained of feeling cold. She even stumbled several times as we left the hospital building. I had to grab her arm to keep her from falling.
The story has a happy ending. I promise I will get to it. But, first, let’s take a closer look at what happened.
Understandably, when Jane heard the doctor say she had cancer and was probably going to die, she felt devastated. She felt an onslaught of fear. But there are some important physiological changes that happened, as well.
Research confirms that there is a strong connection between the vibrancy of the immune system and the emotional state. A number of doctors and researchers refer to a famous case: (Both the well-known, Dr. Larry Dossey, M.D. and Dr. Mario Martinez, Ph.D. have written extensively about this amazing case.) Two patients in the cardiac unit of a large and busy hospital were hospitalized the same day. They were both male and roughly the same age,
but their cases were physiologically very different.
One patient had relatively minor and intermittent chest pains. His tests revealed some moderate coronary artery blockages, but nothing that was immediately life-threatening. He was expected to be discharged from the hospital and to make a full recovery. His cardiologist determined that he did not need surgery. A couple of days in the hospital for rest and monitoring, some medications and diet change were all that seemed to be needed.
The other patient had advanced heart disease and was not expected to recover. The damage to his heart was already too advanced for recovery to be probable.
Here’s where it gets interesting: This was a very busy hospital and the two patient’s charts were accidentally swapped. So, the patient who was supposed to recover had a chart that said he was terminal and the patient who had been diagnosed as terminal had a chart that indicated he was expected to recover.
Over the next several days, the patient who should have recovered, gradually shut down and died instead. The patient who had originally been expected to die, much to the amazement of his doctors, recovered.
How could this be? These two amazing cases attracted the attention of researchers, including Dr. Larry Dossey and Dr. Mario Martinez. They quickly came to the conclusion that unraveling the mystery required connecting the two cases.
Essentially, we had a person who should have recovered, but had been told he was going to die, or “sentenced to death”, and who did die for no real “medical reason”. At the same time, we had a person who, from a medical point of view, should have died, who was told he was going to recover, and who did recover.
Let’s look at what happened in the case of the man who died. Here is what the researchers concluded: He heard that he was supposed to die. His unconscious mind believed this, (even though it was medically not true), and set about preparing his body for death. His organs began shutting down. His immune system became far less active. After all, a dying body does not need to be protected against pathogens, so there is no longer a need for an active immune system.
A brilliant Traditional Chinese Doctor, Dr. Mei, coined the term “Diagnosis Shock” for what happens when our unconscious minds believe that we are dying and that it is time to “throw in the towel.” The unconscious mind believes the situation is hopeless, there is no point in resisting what is imminent, and the time has come to accept what is to come – death. It literally changes the biochemistry of the body and the neurological signaling of the body to prepare for death.
This is similar to what happens when the body “goes into shock” as a result of severe trauma. In fact, the researchers discovered that the same blood chemistry changes noted in cases of shock brought on by trauma occur in those suffering from diagnosis shock. This can be measured in reduced T-cell counts, as well as other blood markers showing metabolic decreases and an immune system that is shutting down.
The diagnosis shock is generally in proportion to the degree of fear, conscious and unconscious, that is associated with the disease or condition. Here’s how this relates specifically to cancer: By far, the most important requirement for overcoming any cancer is a strong immune system. As long as person is in a state of diagnosis shock, their immune system will be anything but strong.
The first thing to do immediately after receiving any serious diagnosis, especially a cancer diagnosis, is to reverse the diagnosis shock. (It is safe to assume that diagnosis shock is always present following such a diagnosis.)
Here is what happened with Jane: She mumbled to the doctor that she had to think about it and that she would let him know the next day what she wanted to do. Clearly, the doctor was not pleased. He wanted to begin the strongest possible treatment right away. But Jane had reservations. After all, the doctor told her that her situation was quite hopeless. So why should she subject herself to the tortures of chemotherapy and radiation?
Instead, she asked me to get her out of there and back home. As soon as we left the hospital, I began working with her to discharge and reverse the diagnosis shock. I did some of this using rational thinking. I asked Jane to describe how her body felt before the appointment. I asked her to describe how her body felt after the appointment. Clearly, there was a dramatic contrast.
Next, I asked Jane if she thought it was even remotely possible that the cancer had advanced sufficiently to explain for how much worse she felt in just the few or so that we spent in the doctor’s office. Obviously, that was not possible. We talked about cancers and how they grow. I shared with Jane that in most cases, tumor-forming cancers grow slowly at first and that almost certainly this cancer had been growing and developing for at least the past few years before it produced and symptoms and became anything that could even be diagnosed.
We used yogic breathing measures, EFT and some special techniques for shifting unconscious beliefs to help her discharge and recover from the diagnosis shock. This was the first major step in her recovery.
Jane decided to decline all conventional treatment and instead take advantage of the leading edge alternative treatment available. Over the next 18 months, I guided her through a program to eradicate the cancer, rebuild her immune system and correct the other factors that had allowed the cancer to grow and thrive in her body. Although her program was specific to her and her needs, it followed the same core principles I have used for many years to help hundreds of my clients recover from cancer.
To make a long story short, instead of getting sicker and dying at six months, which was the short estimate the doctor had given her, Jane was confirmed cancer-free at six months. (Although she declined conventional treatment, I insisted that we utilize conventional diagnostics so that we could track her progress.)
By 18 months, not only had Jane fully recovered her health, but she remained cancer-free, feeling healthier than she had in years. Further, all measurable cancer risk factors were dramatically decreased. It’s been over five years since Jane was declared cancer-free; she remains cancer-free and is optimistic about enjoying many years of healthy life to come.
Conventional medicine still all but ignores diagnosis shock but I have encountered it and observed it over and over again throughout the years I have been doing this work. To me, the phenomena of diagnosis shock is obvious – as are its effects. Ignored, it can be deadly and has the potential to turn an otherwise recoverable case into a terminal one. This is especially true with cancers, where a vibrant and strong immune system is so crucial to recovery. The good news is if you’re aware of diagnosis shock you can work to reverse it and increase your ability to heal.
This Perspective was adapted from an article that Jeff originally published on My Health Optimizer.