The husband of a cancer-fighter asks why the affirmation, "I know that I can heal myself and live or I can heal myself and die" is included in the Fight Cancer guided imagery CD Dear Belleruth,

I love your fighting cancer CD''s. They are life-changing and may turn out to be life-saving.

However, each time I listen I am confused by one phrase you use on the affirmations track: "I can heal myself and live, or I can heal myself and die."

Please tell me what the "heal myself and die" part means.

I look forward to hearing from you. Heartfelt thanks for all your help in my and my wife''s life.


Dear Fred,

I wrote that sentence for several reasons. For one thing, Stephen Levine’s classic book, Healing into Life or Death, talks about how, when he started working with dying cancer patients to help them come to peace with themselves so they could die, he found that many of them, when they did arrive at a more peaceful, accepting place vis-à-vis themselves and their lives, didn’t die after all. He concluded that the ingredients that help a person die well are the same ingredients that help a person fight disease and live. Perhaps the difference between who lives and who dies might be in variables like the progression of the disease, the body’s natural resilience and various environmental factors. But one should not assume that healing hasn’t happened.

So the related idea is that healing can happen, in mind and spirit - and that is huge - even if for the body it’s too late. So it shouldn’t be seen as a "failure" of some sort, if the body doesn’t recover. Healing still happens.

Now, believe me, I realize that for someone who is fighting for his or her life with great focus and determination, these distinctions are meaningless and even irritating. But for others this is an important idea, that releases them from rigid notions of "success" and "failure". That’s why it’s in those affirmations.

I hope this explains it.

And I wish you both the best,