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Words from Bernie Siegel and the Power of “No”

Posted Jan 25 2012 4:51pm
January 25, 2012 - Posted by tamilb

Bernie Siegel, MD, with one of his furry friends

Yesterday, I had an amazing phone interview with Bernie Siegel, MD, best-selling author and pioneer of body-mind-spirit philosophies. I’ll share the interview next week, but here’s a little tease.

I met Bernie years ago when he came to a conference my company was hosting, and I was the PR representative who had the great privilege of coordinating publicity with him. I was amazed that he wanted me to deal directly with him; not his agent. And when I finally got to meet him, he greeted me with a hug and was as kind and generous as he appeared to be in his books. Later, when I was writing From Incurable to Incredible, I asked if he would review it for a cover quote, which turned into a foreword for the book.

If you’re not familiar with Bernie, back in the ’70s when doctors thought he was a wacko for even suggesting it, he shared what he had learned from caring for ”Exceptional Cancer Patients. Bernie explains it beautifully in a post on his site: :

“I can recall, as an intern, realizing that the seniors with hip fractures, who were noisy and demanding, didn’t develop pneumonia and die while the submissive, quiet seniors, who never raised their voice or caused a problem, had a much higher mortality rate.

By speaking up and becoming a character or problem patient, you become identified as a person and not by your room number or disease and, therefore, are far less likely to have a fatal or non-fatal medical error made while being cared for. The word ‘patient’ derives its meaning from submissive sufferer. That is not a good thing to be when hospitalized or receiving medical treatment of any kind. You need to be a respant, or responsible participant if you want to heal and survive.

We now know from studies how one’s emotions and personality affect survival rates. I was criticized years ago for speaking about many things; no one had researched because no one believed they made sense, which are now scientific. Simple things like laughter affecting the survival of cancer patients and loneliness affecting the genes which control immune function are now proven to be true by studies.”

I am finding that this ability to speak up and stand up for myself rings true in my personal life, as well. I am learning to say “no” to people who drain me and give nothing back … even if it’s a close relative. It may go against age-old convention, but I want to live, and I believe that being in a toxic, demanding relationship is dangerous to my health.

I realized that being involved in the drama, the demands and the narcissism of this individual was diverting me from my primary purpose: to heal and support others needing healing. I started sniping at my husband, not giving my full attention to my daughter, and most importantly, not fully attending to my own emotional and physical needs. I am not angry at this person; I’m just exhausted. One thing this cancer has taught me is to stand up for myself. And while it might make me seem uncaring; I think it’s part of being an ”Exceptional Cancer Patient,” as Bernie would say.

I was taking a walk the other day and had this vision of releasing black balloons into the atmosphere. I was doing this with love, praying that they reach their highest good. When guilt comes up, I remind myself that I need to take care of ”little Tami” who needs my love and support. And I’m grateful that I receive support from others, who do care and don’t place high demands on me.

As I was speaking to Bernie, I felt grateful that God brought his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles,  into my life when I was first diagnosed. It changed my life, and his words continue to transform my life. He shrugs off the compliments, telling me it was already in me. Perhaps; but Bernie’s ideas lit a fire and inspired me to do this blog and From Incurable to Incredible.

Thank you Bernie! I hope you all join me next week when I share Part 1 of our interview!



This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 5:51 PM and is filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the feed. You can , or from your own site.
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