by Bernie Siegel, M.D.
Dr. Bernie Siegel is a cancer surgeon, bestselling author, and pioneer in the field of mind-body healing. He founded the Exceptional Cancer Patient Program, a support group system enabling cancer patients to mobilize their full human resources for healing.
When Healing Becomes a Crime needs to be read by every health care professional and legislator, as well as every citizen, since we are all potential patients during our lifetime. Its importance lies not in convincing anyone of the efficacy of Hoxsey's treatment, but in demonstrating the closed-mindedness of the medical profession. We must not keep repeating the scenario and making criminals out of well-intentioned people.
Twenty-five years ago I was chastised for suggesting that personality, life events, and state of mind had an effect on the course of one's cancer. Although this was something others had seen fifty years prior to my awareness, I am still on some Web site quack lists. Years ago I was on all the talk shows and was exposed to criticism for causing guilt and blaming people for their illness. None of this was true, but no one wanted to support my research or listen to what I had to say--except the people who had the illness. Today many doctors have come around to my view because they or their loved ones developed cancer and they experienced first-hand the power of the human spirit under desperate circumstances.
We need to change the system so that future doctors do not receive just medical information but are given a true education. They need to learn how to treat people, not diagnoses. They need to be trained to be willing to accept that which is experienced, We have to remember there is more to healing a person than there is to curing a disease.
The system needs to open up so that the pages of medical journals are not 50 percent pharmaceutical ads, thus closing minds and doors to alternative and integrative treatments. In the future, companies need to be rewarded for researching alternative treatments that cannot be patented. Our government could easily remedy that with tax breaks and deductions for the cost of the research, while allowing the company doing the research to profit from its work in a similar manner to any other commercial venture.
I hope this book will awaken people to the possibilities of true healing. Yes, I am against quackery--taking advantage of sick people--even though believing in a quack may cure someone whom a doctor has declared hopeless. What I seek is an open system to assure that we do the research and give people the information, enabling them to make rational choices that are appropriate for them. Life is a labor pain and we each have the right to decide what pains we are willing to experience to give birth to ourselves.
When my father was dying of cancer, I ordered medication from overseas to give him hope. One day I received a phone call from the post office. They told me the FDA wouldn't allow the package to be delivered unless it was labeled botanical products rather than medication, so the change was made and we received the medication. Someone in the post office treated us like human beings and cared. We are all entitled to make decisions about our lives and health. Let us hope that some day our medical and health care systems include freedom of choice, communication, appropriate research, and the desire to help the patient experiencing the disease.
I've had it easier than Harry Hoxsey because I was a doctor, and when people saw that what I did worked, it became policy. Today the things I was criticized for are a part of quality treatment. No one is against success, so let us approach health car with an open mind and acceptance of what works. And as healers, let us not forget the Hippocratic Oath, whose central message is, "First do no harm." True healing should never be a crime, or healers criminal. May When Healing Becomes a Crime herald the beginning of a new era of medical care that is inquisitive, compassionate, and devoted to making people well.