November Recognizes Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness; Celebrates Advances in Chemotherapy
Many people are curious about the birth of Health Journeys’ guided imagery, and they often ask us how the whole thing started. November recognizes National Lung Cancer Awareness and National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness, so it’s a good time to discuss Belleruth’s journey, beginning with her first guided imagery cassette tape created to help a woman undergoing chemotherapy.
Follow Belleruth’s journey from that first individualized tape to today’s array of audio programs, including the current version of A Meditation to Help You With Chemotherapy, which offers the central image of a lovely fountain of healing liquid, cleansing and clearing, and helping the body’s own natural defense system do its work.
Here’s the story, from the Health Journeys archives:
Our Very First Tape!
The first hand-made tapes were created in 1988. At the time Belleruth was very happily employed as a full-time psychotherapist and part-time teacher at Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, in Cleveland, Ohio.
One day, a new client showed up insisting that Belleruth make her a tape to help her through chemotherapy. She had advanced, metastasized breast cancer that had spread into her bones, brain and lungs. Bonnie was quite a character - very lovable but very bossy. When Belleruth protested that she didn't know enough to make such a tape, she was told, "Don't worry; I'll tell you what to do."
Belleruth checked with Bonnie's oncologist and was told to go ahead and give her whatever she wanted, being as how things couldn't get much worse and she wasn't expected to live beyond 6 months. So Belleruth and Bonnie collaborated on a guided imagery tape. They used Bonnie's memories of her walking as a little girl on the beach with her beloved father; of the waves washing through her body, taking all the cancer out with the tide; of her mother, a formidable cleaner of things, vacuuming the cancer cells out of her body with characteristic zealotry and gusto.
The tape was a hit. On the chemotherapy unit, the redoubtable Bonnie marched from cubicle to cubicle, extolling the virtues of guided imagery, and insisting that others try her tape. She took no prisoners. Soon the nurses were requesting tapes for the waiting room. Bonnie lasted 2 years longer than expected, with very little discomfort, and she enjoyed great quality of life for most of that time.
Meanwhile, Belleruth had become intrigued by what this simple technique could apparently do. Other people started asking her for tapes for multiple sclerosis and heart disease, depression and HIV. Pretty soon she was buttonholing doctors, nurses and patients, digging into the guided imagery research, and making lots more tapes.
George Klein came along as a financial backer for the enterprise, Belleruth continued to work toward creating programs to address current medical and psychological needs, and today Health Journeys produces and distributes Belleruth’s 57 audio titles in CD and MP3 formats. Some programs are available in Playaways, and some are still available in cassette tapes.
In addition, her audio programs have been involved in more than two dozen clinical trials, with nearly a dozen studies completed. Efficacy has been established for several psychological and medical challenges, most recently for PTSD at Duke University Medical Center/Durham Veterans Administration Hospital.
To see more Health Journeys cancer resources, go to the cancer category of our Online Store.
During November, we are reminded that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women and pancreatic cancer is the fourth. For an informative fact sheet about lung cancer, go to the American Lung Association.
For information about pancreatic cancer, go to the American Cancer Society.
To read about recent advances in the use of chemotherapy for all cancers go to The American Cancer Society’s What’s New in Chemotherapy Research?