The Pandemic of Cancer
A Shamanistic Approach
Counting Coup on Cancer: Shamanism and Metaphysics Meet Chemotherapy and Radiation
January 28, 1992, in the oncologist’s office: I sat in a comfortable, pink Lazy-Boy chair. Next to me was a tall stand with a bag dripping clear fluid into the catheter that had been surgically implanted, enabling the fluid to enter directly into a large vein with enough flow to keep the chemicals from burning the vein’s walls. Seated beside me was Mark, and on my lap was my trusty Mac computer. We were shamanistically observing and recording the process of chemotherapy while attempting to establish rapport with the barbaric agents of death that would be fighting for me and my survival.
As Mark focused inward, he saw a staging area filling with abstract beings. They came out of shadows, alien beings with uncoiling tendrils, horns, claws, and misshapen bodies. There was a short one with brown hair and long claws that everyone was backing away from. It is difficult to do justice in writing to how inhuman these beings were: chaotic, base creatures of low intelligence that had no business being alive.
A serpent-dog was coiled around my legs and feet. Like a general, he barked commands. I knew I must not take the edge off his fighting rage.
At 1:45 p.m. anti-nausea drugs were being dripped into my catheter in preparation for the noxious chemicals that were soon to follow. On this day I would have Adriomycen, Vincristine, and Methotrexate; tomorrow, 5FU, and I would be taking Cytoxin by mouth every day.
With prompting from my inner guidance, I psychically reached into my rib cage and ripped my chest wide open to allow the beings to enter and begin the great battle for my life. We could clearly see their barbaric mentality as they crawled, hopped, and jumped in the opening in my chest, which extended from my throat to my sternum.
At 1:52 p.m. sterile water was dripped into the catheter. The serpent-dog flipped from shepherding troops to check in with me, nuzzling my hand and observing everything that was happening with keen, sharp eyes.
Now it was time for the actual chemicals--the storm began, the battle was engaged . . .
As that first battle raged within me, we went home to await the effects. That night the opened area of my chest had taken on the appearance of a cave in which an aged crone was laying a fire, setting up housekeeping, building shelves, hanging herbs, and sweeping the floor. Throughout the entire four months of chemotherapy, my staunch allies were the ever-vigilant crone and the serpent-dog.
Connecting with the crone that night, we became aware of the thunder of distant drums. We could see the glow over the horizon from the advancing army, marking the place where the reinforcements were coming.
The next morning I went for my second day of chemotherapy. While preparing to receive the first injection of 5FU, we saw that the gathering force was on the move. New reinforcements carried big drums, rode doglike creatures, and went about regulating things. They smeared themselves with ashes, emitting guttural sounds as they whipped themselves into a frenzy.
The serpent-dog and the crone looked very regal. The crone moved all of her belongings out of the way but kept the fire burning. She left the cave, leaving me to tend the fire. It was very important for me to maintain an air of nobility throughout the entire course of chemotherapy. I was in command of the chemicals, and I would keep them focusing on the job at hand. It was not easy.
Within two weeks my hair began to fall out, and before long I was completely bald, and soon I had no eyebrows either. I continued to support my treatment through shamanic observation, acupuncture, massage, herbs, and alchemical healing. I could not take the prescriptions for controlling nausea because they caused a strong reaction; I felt as though I was jumping out of my skin. I found pot to be helpful for controlling the nausea and providing access to a level of consciousness where I could more easily make changes inside.
Six weeks later everything conspired to create a most unusual healing experience. Four close friends were working on me, as they did throughout my chemo protocol, practicing all the alchemical healing work we had learned during the previous ten years.
Music was an important vehicle for journeying, and this night we played Voice of the Four Winds, by Dik Darnell. This music pushed me into a place of prayer, calling out to the spirits and giving thanks, and I found myself traveling inward, spiraling through my body until I entered a level where I recognized what felt like the patterning of genes. Recently I had seen a news broadcast about the possibility of an anomalous gene (later identified as BRCA1) found in women with a proclivity to breast cancer. With the support of the music I was able to connect to this gene. I have never thought of violence as an appropriate means for anything. Yet, here I was, my body a literal battlefield, filled with a nuclear arsenal of chemicals developed to deal cancer its deathblows without doing irrevocable damage to healthy organs and tissues. I’d attempted to connect at the molecular level and transform the cells, but always with some confusion as to whether I was killing them. This time, with the magic of the moment and the music, I was able to hold the gene and know it transformed and healed through love. Some basic pattern in the blueprint of my life shifted from life-destroying to life-affirming.
Even during the most miserable of times, for the many days when I could do nothing more rigorous than go to the bathroom, my spirit guides and totem allies were always available.