Monday, October 1, 2007

The Impact of a Diagnosis (Part 1)

When my father was diagnosed with an advanced stage of prostate cancer--more than 18 years ago--I still can remember the look on his face. It seemed like the moment the doctor said the word "cancer," my father's face turned gray. It was as if a dark spirit invaded his hospital room, and robbed him of his spirit and zest for life.

Because I am a researcher by avocation as well as by vocation, I knew that the best way to help my dad was to find success stories that would give him hope. After a tremendous amount of research, I found a book, Recalled by Life, written by Anthony J. Sattilaro, M.D.

Dr. Sattilaro, who was the medical director of a major hospital, had been diagnosed with an advanced case of prostate cancer that had metastasized throughout his body--and was given no hope by traditional medicine. My father's prostate cancer wasn't diagnosed until it, too, was at an advanced stage, and he, too, wasn't given much hope.

In Dr. Sattilaro's case, he had to go outside traditional medicine to find hope. He met with Michio Kushi, a practitioner who believes in a macrobiotic diet, and by following Kushi's diet, Sattilaro healed himself. Ultimately, his MRI revealed that he was cancer free. After receiving a "death sentence," Sattilaro lived for 10 more years.

For my father who went to a Kushi disciple in California, the diet was not as important as the fact that Kushi's disciple told my father that he would get well. When my father returned from his week-long sojourn, he was renewed. Within weeks, his energy level improved, he was back to playing tennis, his eyes regained their intensity, and his zest for life reappeared.

I imagine that for some of us, hearing a psychiatrist say the words "bipolar mood disorder" affected us the same way the word "cancer" affected my father. In my case, after 25 years of undiagnosed depressive episodes, I was relieved to find out my periods of grave unhappiness had a "name," but terribly distraught to learn that I could possibly to categorized as a MIP (mentally ill person).

(more to come)

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