+ Cranio sacral therapy and Cancer -October 05
I have a friend who has had a mastectomy and partial
lymphadenectomy and is currently receiving chemotherapy
for active cancer in her neck. I was thinking that some
CST would be helpful to assist her immune system (not
to mention emotional state) but am concerned whether it
would simultaneously stimulate the cancer which is
quite an aggressive type.
Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter, I
can provide more info if you need in order to advise me
B.App Sc. (Occupational Therapy), Dip. CST
Your question goes right to the heart of what we do.
My answer, in typical cranio fashion, is not clear cut.
Maybe . .
Maybe her system will use your treatment to grow the
cancer more aggressively.
Maybe her system will use your treatment to get rid
of the cancer completely.
By ‘system’ I mean everything. Mind, Body, Spirit,
the lot and anything else we don’t know about.
You see, all the warm and fluffy talk about us
cranio sacral therapists not ‘doing’ anything but
simply supporting the patient’s system isn’t
It’s actually true.
And if you know that and you are treating people
well, which means not imposing your idea of what needs
to happen on their systems, then you really have to
face the fact that you’re not in control of what’s
. . or going to happen.
That concept is easy enough to accept when you are
dealing with something simple that isn’t resolving.
Everything feels ripe in the person’s system for an
old pattern of restriction to release but it just
It makes you sort of scratch your head and think,
‘Well that’s odd. I can’t see any reason why it’s not
Then you remember, ‘Ah that’s right, I’m not running
the show here. There must be a reason that makes sense
to this persons system and it just hasn’t informed me
of it yet.’
But . .
When the person is manifesting life threatening
symptoms the stakes are much higher. It’s very easy to
slip back into the mechanistic view of health and WANT
a particular outcome. In this case more life for the
But wait, it gets more complicated . .
Being able to tell the difference between a patient
who is thinking of finishing their life and one who is
not, is difficult.
Often what comes out of the person’s mouth is very
different from what their system says.
In one case the person says, ‘I am going to beat
this.’ While their system says, ‘I can no longer live
with this discord in me. I am finishing my life.’
In another case the person says, ‘I can’t bear this
pain any longer. I just want to die.’ While their
system says, ‘I am fully engaged in my life and I want
this discord in me to come into harmony.’
In practice I’ve seen that there’s a different
therapeutic dynamic between a patient and I, depending
on whether their situation is life threatening or not.
When a person comes to me for help and I put my
hands on them, the unspoken communication from me to
their system is always the same.
What are you trying to do?
How can I be of assistance?
(Anyone NOT asking yourself those questions, go to
the top of the class and bitch-slap the teacher. Then
get yourself a better teacher.)
If the patient’s unspoken response is, ‘I am fully
engaged in my life and I want this discord in me to
come into harmony.’
Then . . it’s on . .
The dynamic between us is a bit like an Aikido
expert trying to rodeo ride a Tasmanian Devil.
(think Bugs Bunny)
I’m the Aikido expert.
No, not really – just for this analogy.
The restriction is protected by many defences that
come to the fore as the drive for harmony lets me in.
I do my best to stay focused in spite of the
I funnel all the energy they project in defence,
back into their system, to assist the release.
There is a back and forth struggle as I stay with
them through the process of release and healing.
All going well there is a sense of liberation at the
end. For both of us.
If, on the other hand, the unspoken response to my
question is, ‘I can no longer live with this discord in
me. I am finishing my life.’ then I am dealing with a
totally different situation and the dynamic is very
No back and forth, no struggle.
I’ll have to get a bit cosmic here to explain, so if
you have any deeply held religious beliefs, you should
maybe stop reading now as you might find what I’m going
to say offends you . .
Life threatening conditions are created at the core
of the person. To effectively work with them requires
deep respect for the origin of the choice.
We are multi layered, multi faceted beings. The
part of us that makes this choice is not in our
The choice to conclude our life is made in the same
place as the choice to begin our life.
The reasons for both choices are extremely personal
and by their nature, not in our awareness.
Put aside for a minute, any information you might
have come upon from clairvoyants and channelers etc.
Now consider these questions.
Why were you born?
Why did you choose the gender you did?
Why did you choose the family you did?
Why did you choose the country you did?
And so on . .
If you don’t know the answer to these questions for
your own life, how are you going to know them for
. . and knowing that, helps you be HUMBLE and
RESPECTFUL when working with someone dealing with these
I can’t over emphasis this point.
Deep, for real, humility and respect are an
important key you are going to need if you really want
to be of assistance.
. . because, here’s the thing, the decision to
finish a life is NOT IRREVOCABLE.
It can change.
Cancer is very dynamic. Once it gets going it can
grow very fast.
. . . and it can un-grow very fast too.
When you approach the person with humility, respect
and NO AGENDA, a remarkable thing happens. You are
allowed deeper access to the core of the person.
There’s a phenomenon in quantum physics called the
‘Copenhagen Interpretation’. It says that the presence
of the observer influences the experiment.
But only in Copenhagen!
No, not really.
The significant aspect of this phenomenon is
presence. Your presence makes a huge difference.
Think about it.
Your presence has been allowed into the part of the
person that is making the life/death choice.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Just being with the person at this level is of
tremendous assistance to them. A friendly companion on
a difficult stretch of the road makes the journey
As you walk along together, them talking, you
listening, they start to tell you about why they are
finishing their life. As they do this, more and more
harmony comes into their system because of the effect
of your respectful presence.
Sometimes, as they tell you about why they are
finishing their life, it becomes apparent to them that
they’ve missed something, a piece of information or a
perspective they hadn’t looked at.
Suddenly they stop.
You are at a fork in the road that wasn’t there a
moment ago. They smile at you and say, ‘I’m feeling
somewhat Tasmanian, let’s go down this way.’
and . . . it’s on.
Other times they keep on the same road and their
passage is made easier by your presence.
Life for its own sake is not necessarily GOOD.
Death in and of itself is not necessarily BAD. The
QUALITY of both, our life and our death are what
Often the road you travel with a person dealing with
this issue has many forks and they change their mind a
The main assistance we can give is easing the
process, brokering as much harmony in their system as
Make no mistake it’s very demanding.
If you do decide to treat your friend, here are some
things to look out for from a palpatory perspective.
Bear in mind that palpation is a very personal affair
and how I pick it up may not be the way you pick it up.
What does it feel like?
In the initial, PRE pre cancerous cell stage, it
feels like an intensely bright point of light,
As the cancer becomes more materialised it becomes
brighter and starts to grow legs like a spider.
In time as it becomes ‘aggressive’ these legs
connect up with other points of light and the whole
thing becomes more solid.
Eventually the center of this mass of white hot
light becomes fleshy as the tumour proper forms.
If the person changes their mind about finishing
their life and the cancer starts to return to normal
tissue it will go from the white hot quality to a sort
of turgid yellow.
This eventually turns into normal tissue.
An exception to this pattern is prostate cancer,
which feels like a white cocoon being spun around the
prostate. It is made up of threads and not spidery.
Benign tumours don’t have this intense light quality
and just sort of sit there like cellular couch
potatoes, slowly getting bigger. If they are a
problem, it’s usually because they are pressing on
delicate surrounding structures.
Knowing what cancer feels like at its different
stages of growth and decline is very useful in being
able to pick up secondary or satellite growths.
Here’s why . .
If someone is intent on finishing their life and
they have received surgery, chemotherapy and radiation,
at the main site of the cancer, it often works. The
tumour is removed or shrinks and any new cancerous
cells are killed too.
But if the person is intent on finishing their life,
their system will grow satellite cancer cells somewhere
else and being able to feel this is very useful.
As if all that weren’t enough . . .
Knowing what cancer ‘feels’ like can be terrible
knowledge because it puts you in the very difficult
position of choosing what to say to the person.
CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION!
As a general rule.
Keep your mouth SHUT!
. . .and wait.
Remember what I said, physically it can change very
fast. Here today, gone tomorrow.
The life threatening symptoms are being created by a
core part of the person. That part uses speech and
words VERY INFREQUENTLY and then only as a last resort.
FOLLOW ITS EXAMPLE.
Obviously if you’re asked a direct question, answer
it but watch out for a tendency to answer questions
that haven’t been asked.
If you wait, the person will probably tell you what
you are feeling anyway and this is much more powerful
Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy?
These treatments are effective at killing cells,
particularly cancer cells but they are very hard on the
Chemotherapy feels like a very sophisticated
cocktail of poison. Which in a way, it is.
Radiation therapy is like a very bad case of
sunburn, repeated daily for 5 to 10 weeks.
Both generate a, ‘What the?’ reaction in the body.
You can be most helpful in negotiating with the
person’s system to not see these treatments as so much
of a threat but as an aid to recovery. That’s if you
are getting the feeling that they want to recover.
If not, you can only do the best you can in a
difficult situation. Try not to turn away internally
from their pain. Try and continue to be with them on
this painful stretch of the road. Remain respectful of
Cancer – Did I mention it was demanding?