The first day’s meeting with our Gaza leadership team opens the door, actually frames the whole visit. There’s Jamil—our Program Director, and nineteen others—psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers. They have day jobs in Gaza’s ministries, at the UN, and in the red crescent, and a variety of local NGOs. Many have been with us since 2005 when they came to the first training. They lead our programs in the institutions in which they work, supervise the 420 clinicians and educators we have trained in Gaza and meet together every week to learn from one another and make our program as good and as easily available as it can be. Jamil and his team are responsible for bringing our work to, so far, 50,000 Palestinian children and adults.
People with cancer often come to me with a central question: “What else can I do?” This has two parts: What other therapies are available than the ones my oncologist prescribed? And, second, what can I do? How can I participate actively in my own care?
For Israelis and Palestinians, this question is fundamental. Israelis, like Americans, are faced with a multitude of (often conflicting) treatment choices. For Palestinians with very limited treatment options, a cancer diagnosis—even for some of the most treatable forms of the illness—is often accepted as a death sentence. In both cases, “what else can I do?” is a question whose answers are of central importance to the well-being of patients—one that The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) has been answering for twelve years in its US CancerGuides trainings.
I had to stop in the middle of eating my lunch just now because of how beautiful the colors are! This is a fall farm market feast, of small purple potatoes, crimini mushrooms, golden zucchini (!), squash blossoms, sweet red pepper and red onion with corn tortillas and arugula. Oh, YUM!
And easy. You may have noticed, that’s the only way I cook.
My first introduction to mind-body healing was 25 years ago when I experienced excruciating migraine headaches. After many unproductive doctor visits, I was referred to biofeedback relaxation exercises. At first I was skeptical as my fingers were gently taped to wires to gauge my body temperature and blood flow. However, I came to appreciate and understand the impact of constricted blood vessels and oxygen deprivation, caused by stress and tension, on my body. To this day, my simple awareness of tension and stress has eliminated the migraines.
Ten years ago, I began having back pain that virtually debilitated me for almost a year. I was taking enormous amounts of drugs, including epidural shots, and was hospitalized on Morphine IV. I went to top doctors who all said that I MUST have spinal fusion surgery for my so-diagnosed herniated, bulging disc. Three days before the scheduled surgery, I cancelled. I was fortunate to find Dr. John Sarno, author of The Mindbody Prescription, and discover that there was a safer, healthier, more effective option. Through readings, psychotherapy and a lot of hard work, I learned that psychological factors (e.g., difficult emotions, repressed anger/rage in the unconscious mind) were causing the pain.