Mindfulness In Healing Sangha Celebrates 10 Years of Continuous Practice

We are extremely happy to announce the tenth anniversary of our Mindfulness In Healing sangha on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. The sangha was founded by Jerome Freedman, Ph. D. on the summer solstice in 2009 as a means to give back to his community after being in remission from bladder cancer which began in 1997 and flared up in 2003. After four or five more bouts of bladder cancer, he is now cancer free once again, thanks to immunotherapy.

The sangha has consistently met at the Pine Street Clinic in San Anselmo (Marin County, California) on Wednesday nights. We are totally grateful to Michael Broffman and the Pine Street Clinic for letting us use their facility for the past 10 years. The clinic is famous for their research on dogs sniffing ovarian and uterine cancers.

Soon after forming the sangha, Jerome invited Carolyn de Fay, LCSW to join as a co-facilitator so that we could hold sangha when one of us was indisposed. We have been facilitating together most of the time.

Our practice begins with inviting the bell followed by an invocation and thirty minutes of sitting meditation. This is followed by tea breaks and the evening program, which consists of dharma sharing, dharma discussions and / or dharma teachings by Jerome or Carolyn. We end with the dedication of merit.

Vivian Taube joined the sangha in 2014, as a regular member. She is grateful for a sangha, where she can discuss her healing from schizoaffective disorder openly, as the sangha’s original intent was to support people and care givers in their healing process.  In 2017, she decided to aspire to the Order of Interbeing, and she chose Jerome and Carolyn as two of her OI mentors. 

Healing Story #1: Micah Freedman

Could you be inspired by the story of a seven year old child who was stricken with a usually fatal kidney cancer (Wilm’s tumor) in 1976 and is still thriving today? If so, please view two episodes of In Search Of on YouTube, from 1976 and 1980:

This child is my son, Micah!

The same day that I found out that Micah had cancer, I started working with him using a form of mindfulness practice which was later dubbed, “Mind Stories”. I trained Micah at the age of seven to create mind stories about his cancer using guided imagery and creative visualization techniques. How I learned these is the subject of another article in this series (link to be provided).

After more than four weeks in the hospital, which followed a complete resection of the infected kidney, Micah was brought home. It was at that time we hired Dr. Sheldon Ruderman to be his therapist and continue working on mind stories.

You’ll be happy to know that beyond all expectations of the attending physicians, Micah is still alive today and thrives in Fairfax, California with a new born daughter. We see him often and every time I see him I recognize the miracle of his healing and the miracle of mindfulness.

Anti-Cancer Revolution

Sign up for the amazing Anti-Cancer Revolution, June 17 – 23, 2019 and receive a copy of my best selling book, Stop Cancer in its Tracks as a PDF download.

My Room With a View

China Beach, Point Lobos Reserve

This year began with a cystoscopy on January 25, the 21st anniversary of the onset of bladder cancer. My kidney function showed some signs of stress but my doctor decided to ignore them.

Then in February, I began to lose interest in food. I remember two incidents, each occurring on a Friday night when we were out to dinner with friends. We were at a French restaurant and I couldn’t decide what to eat, even though there were plenty of items of interest on the menu. The month before, I wouldn’t have had a problem with what to eat, but on those nights, nothing appealed to me. Nothing! I managed to select something that I could tolerate, but they lacked taste.

Two weeks later I landed in the hospital with kidney failure. The only way to save my kidneys was to install nephroscopy tubes in each kidney to drain the accumulated liquid and allow the kidneys time to repair. It appears that the cancer in my bladder blocked the ureters and caused the kidneys to fail. Stents were placed in the ureters to help the flow of fluids to the bladder.

I unwittingly took the medications they gave me for kidney pain. They gave me tramadol, which is an addictive narcotic. This caused my whole gastric system to back up from my esophagus all the way down. I couldn’t fit any food in my stomach so I had to take very small meals frequently. The gastroenterologist put me on another medication that seemed to help the problem, but it took until July for the problem to ease off.

In the meantime, I began immunotherapy with Keytruda (Pembrolizumab). This happens every three weeks at the infusion center at UCSF. The good news is that it seems to be working against the cancer.

Then another thing happened. Because of the tubes and the stents, I developed a vigorous bacteria in my urological system called pseudomonas. This caused me to be in the hospital three more time, twice in August and once in November because the bacteria could only be treated by strong intervenous antibiotics.

If this isn’t enough, I was talked into a flu shot a couple of weeks ago by my doctors and my wife and I had a very bad response to it. Supposedly, the immunotherapy energized my immune system to attack the vaccine and I was ill for about a week.

And there is more…

Now things are leveling out and I’m starting to feel better. My meditation practices, my Mindfulness In Healing meditation group, my walking instead of tennis, my family and friends have helped me be present for everything that has happened. I count the days when I’ve been really down on one pinky finger.

So you may be wondering, why I am writing this article. A few days ago, I had a lucid dream that I was to create a comprehensive cancer resource guide so I want to alert you to the fact that I am working on a cancer resource guide as part of this website. The guide will have information about books, recordings, health providers, alternative treatments, off-label or creative ideas and much more.

In my original site in 1997, I had the beginning of a cancer resource guide which I have reproduced with a small amount of additions as a starting point. It will be changed to a searchable database as I progress through this project. Your comments and questions are certainly welcome.

Starve Your Cancer

This Ted Talk by Dr. William Li talks about how to starve your cancer by controlling angiogenesis – the formation of blood vessels. Dr. Li is the President and Medical Director of The Angiogenesis Foundation.

We all have microscopic cancers in our bodies. Without blood vessels, the cancer cannot survive.

Anti-angiogenesis drugsAntiangiogenic Therapy cuts off the blood supply to tumor cells. It differs from chemotherapy because it targets the blood vessels feeding cancer. Avastin is used to treat breast cancer.

Diet is responsible for 30 to 35% of environmental cancers.

Can you eat to starve your cancer? The answer is, “Yes.” The following foods are mentioned in the talk.

The crucial first (and best) step: Eating cancer-fighting foods that cut off the supply lines and beat cancer at its own game.

  • resveratrol – found in grapes – inhibits angiogenesis.
  • strawberries have ellagic acid
  • genistein – and extract from soy beans
  • teas – Earl Grey, Dragon Pearl Jasmin, and Sencha. The blend of Sencha plus Jasmin has the highest anti-angiogenic potency index, an example of food synergy.
  • parsley
  • berries
  • lycopene from cooked tomatoes

This antiangiogenesis diet also works with fat and obesity.

What can we do for ourselves to prevent or treat cancer? One thing for certain is to eat the foods recommended in this video.

Gabrielle Roth

This evening, I attended an evening with Gabrielle Roth, and American Shaman.  Back in 1975 and 1976, I spent much of my time with Gabrielle, as her student and assistant.  Her main contribution to my life at that time was to support me through the worst of my son’s bout with cancer.  In addition, I learned a lot about movement from her.  She actually had trained with Anna Halprin. On the day my son went into the hospital for surgery of his tumor, I was supposed to go to Eselan with Gabrielle to assist her in her workshop.  However, this was not to be.  A month earlier, Gabrielle and I put on an amazing event to honor Rajneesh.  We had about 250 people attend, and it was wonderful.

This evening was very nice for me.  As Gabrielle entered the auditorium, I greeted her and she remembered me by name.  She had just recently told someone about my son’s miraculous recovery 21 years ago.

After about thirty minutes of movement, Gabrielle began to speak about trialectics (although she didn’t mention the name).  From my understanding, trialectics teaches that for every active force and its corresponding passive force, there is a neutralizing force to go along with them.  Gabrielle spoke about awareness, attention, and action in the context of ourselves, our one-on-one relationships, and our relationships to a group.  These last three concepts fit nicely into the three instincts of the enneagram.  In respect to awareness, attention, and action, Gabrielle spoke about thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations – the three centers of intelligence.  At an appropriate time in the discussion, I delivered a little speech about the advanced stages of these centers.  I used my concept of playing tennis with mindfulness as an example of being about to move before you know how you will move, that is, very instinctually.  The phenomena occurs in athletes when the enter the “zone” of ultimate capability.  This was an example of body awareness that goes beyond the normal range of effort.  I similarly spoke about feeling things before you know what you will feel, giving rise to lucid dreams, clairvoyance, and other psychic phenomena.  Finally, I spoke about having thoughts that seem to come out of no where in which you just simply know.  With these capabilities in place, one being to experience what it is like to be another.  Gabrielle was pleased with what I had to say, and told the crowd that this was the essence of what she was teaching.

By the way, earlier that day I had a wonderful session with Leslie Davenport.


Psychotronic Healing

Having made my peace with my wife the night before, I felt comfortable attending Patricia’s workshop. Patricia and Ruth seemed to capture the essence of Nicholi’s teachings. Although I missed the introduction the night before, I think I fit in nicely with the energy of the group. During the early morning sharing, I spoke about my cancer and my healing. I was especially interested in Nicholi’s model of infection, which incorporates genetic and environmental causes, as well as in-utero effects. I think that there is real value in this psychotronic healing, and I’ve been trying it out with some friends at a distance.

During the lunch break, I had a remarkable time! I walked up to Union street and had lunch in an Italian restaurant. My table was on the side walk, and I took delight in watching all the shoppers and passerby.


Another No-Cancer Day!

Today was another day that you wouldn’t think I had cancer unless you asked! I spent the morning scanning images from the graduation and Father’s day last week. In the afternoon, we went to visit friends in San Mateo, and we took a walk that was the longest walk I’ve been able to manage since completing the chemotherapy. I didn’t think too much about my disease until I arrived home exhausted. Then I felt it in spades and choose to listen to Thich Nhat Hanh.


Separate Cars, Separate Rows

This was one of the first days that I didn’t think much about the cancer. I worked in the morning and early afternoon to catch up on some coding that I haven’t been able to do because of feeling so bad. I also had lunch with the girls and made two copies of the graduation tape. Then I did a mind story and took a long bath. By the time I was done with these activities, I was ready for a night out on the town. We took our kids to the R. and J.’s house where we met M. and M. R. and their kids. All the kids stayed together and we went out for pizza and a movie. The men drove in one car and the ladies in another. We even sat in separate rows in the movie. We saw, “Ulee’s Gold.”


Tea and Pumpkin Cake

This was the first day I felt almost normal! Lucky for that, too, because I had to go to Menlo Park to complete my performance evaluation with my boss. The day in Menlo Park was quite wonderful. The results of my review were acceptable except for one slight disagreement, which we are in the process of working out. Once the review was complete, we went to lunch, as we had done so many times before. Over all, we spent about two and one-half hours of quality time together, talking about business, raising girls, martial arts, and a variety of interesting topics.

In the evening, I went to the final class of Moving Towards Health with Anna Halprin at her studio in Kentfield. I had been to her studio once before about twenty-three years ago with Gabrielle Roth, and it was even more beautiful than I remembered. The night air was cool and comfortable and the setting in the woods was quite inspiring.

After a check in, in which I shared my progress report, we did some movements on the deck. We each walked around the deck for a while to find our “spot.” Mine was at the East end of the deck facing West with a view of the very top of Mt. Tamalpias. It was gorgeous in the early evening sunlight. We made the movement into a ritual by performing the movement in each direction. Then each member was asked to dance their favorite movement and we did each person’s movement in each of the four cardinal directions.

Next, we took a silent walk in the wood around her three acre estate. At a certain point, she asked us to fan out and find our “tree.” We then spent about one-half hour with the tree, asking it questions, feeling it’s growth, and merging with “treeness.” I picked a rather tall redwood, which I was willing to share with one of the other participants, but she marched off to find another tree. I embraced the tree, listened to it’s growth, and tried to encircle it with my arms, but it was too big. So instead, I walked around the tree, which was no easy task, since the tree was situated at the top of a two or three foot embankment. Towards the end of the time with the tree, I leaned on the tree with my back supported by the tree. It was a comfortable position to observe the connection, and it also allowed me see other elements in the environment. When the bell rang, and everyone headed back to the deck, I waited to the end and urinated on the tree. I had asked the tree if it minded the last vestiges of my disease being sprayed on it’s trunk, and the tree said that for decades all kinds of deer, rabbits, skunks, and other animals had done so and the tree felt nourished by each one. My act was a symbolic representation of cleansing the cancer and drugs from my system, as well as a way of claiming my territory in that little woods.

Back at the studio, we drew pictures of our excursion, and then danced what we drew before sharing our drawings. In the dance, Anna Halprin became my tree and supported my back while we moved together. Eventually, we encompassed the whole troop and focused our healing energies around a woman who was not fine when she arrived. It was a group hug embracing a lot of love, and it felt delightful.

My picture is shown on the left. It is called Yellow Stream, of all things! Note that all of the trees grow clearly past the top of the hillside, and all of the little leaves, branches, and other natural elements that are part of the drawing. The tree is in separate from the other non-tree elements. In fact, the tree depends on the non-tree elements for it’s existence. It derives nourishment from the environment, and my contribution was minimal, if not symbolic. When I shared the meaning of my picture, everyone go hysterical. We had a good laugh for a long time.

At the conclusion of the group, Anna invited us into her house for tea and pumpkin cake. This brought the spirit of the group together and we hung out for about another hour. I found myself swinging on a hammock with two women, two of my favorites. We talked about a lot of things and when I told them that I had an alternative title for the book, Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves, one of them said rather enthusiastically, that she would by a book with that name. Then I shared my image of “healthy cells grow all by themselves,” and they felt even more comfortable with the title. So here we have it! The bound version of Yellow Stream will be hereafter called, Healthy Cells Grow All By Themselves! It’s the official title now!


stop cancer

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

My wife and I went to see a production of the ballet, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Our friend’s daughter danced the leading role and she looked like a professional. I was very moved by the performance as a whole.

Today, however, has been as sad day for me. I woke up feeling very vulnerable and emotional. I am a little afraid of the next round of chemotherapy and radiation, but besides that, I’m sad that my energy has not returned to its normal level. I feel physically and emotionally exhausted most of the time, even though everyone tells me how good I look. Having cancer is such a drag. I really need to pull myself together. Writing helps. Mindfulness helps, but I feel some underlying sadness now that is hard to deal with. It could be that I am just doing too much since the last surgery, but I keep thinking about my disappointments in life. I know that these feelings are impermanent and that I’ll feel better soon. Maybe after dinner!

All day I had been thinking about Thich Nhat Hanh and how I’ve used mindfulness to keep calm. At one point, I was feeling that mindfulness had kept me alive, and I started to cry. I’m planning to attend a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh in September in Santa Barbara. I explained all this to Dr. Rossman as we drove to a restaurant in Mill Valley. As we walked in, I looked over to the wall on my left and saw Reb Anderson, former abbot of Zen Center! I spoke with him briefly about my illness and about my mindfulness meditation. I had placed his name and that of the current abbot in my Wizard at the beginning of my illness, but I have never got around to calling either one! Now the word is out.


Copyright © 2004-2018, Jerome Freedman, Ph. D.