Not long after her husband released a book detailing how he had cured himself of prostate cancer using natural methods, 54-year-old Beth Misner from Austin, Texas, discovered she had metastatic breast cancer.
Inspired by her husband's healing journey, Beth chose a holistic approach to treat her cancer, which included a ketogenic diet, laetrile (vitamin B17) infusions, herbs and supplements, immunotherapy, and a variety of mind-body techniques.
Amazingly, within a year of diagnosis, Beth was completely healed, and she is still enjoying good health one year later. The ancient Chinese slow-movement and mindfulness technique qigong was at the core of Beth's "gentle healing process," and here she describes how she used a specific form of qigong to help with her recovery.
I have been a martial artist since the age of 25, when I began to study an American form of karate based on the Shotokan style from Okinawa, Japan. I never thought that my study of the martial arts would help me heal a serious condition like breast cancer, but it did.
I earned my black belt just after I turned 40, and it was then that I became interested in the internal martial arts—those that focus on spiritual or mental aspects, or the 'life energy' known in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as qi. Although I did not quite 'get it' for many years, I was especially intrigued by qigong, the ancient Chinese practice whose name literally means 'working with the qi.'
I started training with Qigong Master Samuel Barnes 14 years ago and slowly learned how to emit qi (energy) to have an immediate healing impact on others. It wasn't until much later that I experienced the incredible healing power of qigong myself—when I decided to use medical qigong to help heal a tumor in my breast.
When I first detected the tumor, I called Qigong Master Chunyi Lin, who had worked with my husband, Ivan, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Master Lin has developed an advanced yet easy-to-do form of qigong called Spring Forest Qigong and founded a dedicated healing center in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, offering personalized qigong programs.
I asked Master Lin what kind of qigong would be best to support my cancer-healing journey, and he recommended his Spring Forest Qigong Five Elements, based on the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water along with five positive emotions: happiness, joy, peace, contentment and gratitude. The Spring Forest Qigong Five Elements combines the physical movements and mental/emotional focus to maximize immune function.
He suggested that I begin to practice this set of movements three times a day for half an hour each session, which I did, downloading his video tutorial from his website (www.springforestqigong.com).
He also invited me to come to his healing center in Minneapolis for a two-week qigong retreat. I accepted, but as I didn't want to be away from home for too long, I decided to go for 10 days.
The qigong retreat
I spent the first half of my time staying out in the country with a friend, Pete, who lives in an earth-sheltered house on 11 wonderfully wooded and landscaped acres. The environment was so healing and peaceful.
Pete did not mind that I disappeared around sunset and got up before sunrise. He made me green drinks every morning, and we cooked together in the evening when I returned from the Spring Forest Qigong Center.
For the second half of my retreat, Master Lin invited me to stay with him at his lakefront home, and I visited the Spring Forest Qigong Center every day.
I was able to work with all three of the master healers at the center. They worked with me doing various forms of meditation, both alone and in group classes. I also practiced the Spring Forest moving qigong and received medical qigong treatments as well as qi-ssage, a special form of massage for the purpose of opening energy channels in the body.
I spent between five and eight hours each day in qigong practice. While I stayed with Master Lin, he cooked meals for me with special herbs and mushrooms to support my immune system. He also gave me goji berries, red dates and powdered mushroom blends with reishi mushrooms.
We practiced the Spring Forest Qigong Five Elements together in the early morning hours, and in the evenings, he did additional qi-ssage and qigong healing sessions with me. His focus was to make sure all my energy blockages were opened and that energy was flowing freely in my whole body.
He told me that my kidney qi was weak, and he tonified the kidney qi energy. I began to learn a whole new vocabulary for healing and saw more of the TCM approach to disease and healing. I liked what I was learning.
And my tumor, which had already shrunk since I started my holistic healing regime, continued to become smaller. I began to feel a deeper level of peacefulness and contentment.
During my research into qigong healing and cancer, I found a video of a patient at a medicine-less qigong hospital in China who had a bladder tumor. You can watch the qigong masters working on the patient while the patient's bladder tumor is being scanned and is clearly visible on the monitor beside him. As the medical qigong treatment progresses, the tumor seems to quickly shrink and then completely disappear.
I asked Master Lin about this video and whether it was valid. He knew of the case, and he said it was verified. I asked him what the qigong masters were chanting during the treatment. He told me that they were saying, 'Already healed' in Chinese.
A large part of the healing with qigong, I discovered, involves feeling healed, knowing you are healed, and then becoming healed. I tucked this bit of information away in my mind. Then Master Lin told me that the patient had later died from a recurrence of the cancer. In his opinion, it was because the focus had been exclusively on the tumor and not on removing the energy blockages in the whole body and tonifying the qi.
In the Chinese medical and energetic approach to illness, disease arises when there is an imbalance in yin and yang energies, blockages in energy channels, and weakness in qi in the body. These have been new ways for me to consider illness, especially cancer. And I have very much enjoyed learning and applying the principles of qigong to my recovery.
According to the principles of qigong, I had a blockage in the lung channels. Blockages in the lung channels can lead to congestion, cysts, and tumors, both malignant and benign, in the breasts. I do have a history of cysts, and I did ultimately develop a tumor.
I practiced qigong healing exercises to open the blockage in my lung channels, and I also did a lot of qigong to balance the yin and yang energy in my entire body, as well as tonify and purify my qi. When I got to Master Lin's clinic in Minnesota, he confirmed that I had too much yang energy and not enough yin energy. Yang energy is the doing energy; yin energy is the being energy. There was no doubt that I was doing more than being for quite a few years leading up to the detection of this tiny messenger.
Every day when I went to the Spring Forest Qigong Center, the healers and I could feel that my qi was getting stronger and more balanced. One day I felt an ant crawling through the hairs on my right forearm during one of the healing sessions. But when I glanced down, there was nothing there!
I looked up in surprise at the qigong practitioner, who was smiling at me. "Did you feel that?" she asked me. "Yes, I thought there was an ant crawling on my arm," I replied in disbelief. "I felt it too, on my arm. The lung energy channel is opening up," she reassured me.
On the last day that I was with the qigong practitioners, the same qigong healer was working with me toward the end of the day. As I sat there quietly, breathing deeply and slowly, I suddenly felt a tingling sensation in the area of the tumor. It was a bit like static electricity, not painful, but not like anything I had ever felt before.
Again, I looked to see what was happening. The practitioner was calmly reaching into the air in front of me and pulling something away repeatedly. "What is it?" I asked. "There was a beautiful orchid in your breast. I removed it," she smiled peacefully at me. I smiled back at her, thought to myself, "Already healed," and closed my eyes with deep joy and contentment.
Doing my homework
Upon my return home from the Spring Forest Qigong Center, I went online and ordered Dr Jerry Alan Johnson's five-volume work, The Secret Teachings of Chinese Energetic Medicine. I visited our local Asian market and bought a variety of mushrooms, organic sprouted grains, goji berries and red dates. I wanted to continue what I had been doing at Master Lin's once I was at home.
I also did a search for a local TCM practitioner in Austin. I found Dr Nelson Song Luo, a faculty member at the AOMA Graduate School for Integrative Medicine, and made an appointment with him to continue having my qi balanced and strengthened. I chose Dr Luo because he had learned qigong and TCM first from his grandfather before studying at school and professionally.
Dr Luo commented right away that my kidney qi was too weak. He did acupuncture, 'hot needling' with moxa (dried mugwort) sticks and some electric stimulation.
TCM teaches that the kidney and lung channels can also impact the breasts, leading to congestion: cysts, fibrous tissue and tumors (both benign and malignant).
My second visit to Dr Luo found my kidney qi to still be strong from my first treatment and the qigong healing work I was doing at home. My subsequent experience is that my kidney qi continues to be strong with most of the visits I have had, only dipping after travel.
Dr Luo also prescribed a variety of dried herbs to "cool heat" and "dry dampness." The way TCM approaches the body is very different from our allopathic (modern Western medical) approach. Where we might refer to inflammation, TCM refers to heat. Where we talk about stress and anxiety, TCM talks about too much yang energy or an imbalance in yin and yang energies.
There is no doubt in my mind that my experience with cancer resulted from too much yang energy in my life: too much activity, too much thinking, doing and worrying, and not enough relaxing, resting and breathing. This is a recipe for suppressing the immune system and switching on oncogenes—genes that have the potential to cause cancer—as the study of epigenetics is now revealing.
Healing in harmony
Millions of people in the world rely on medical qigong for their healthcare, and they heal gently, easily and gracefully. Master Lin has many students, including his own late wife, who have seen their cancers reverse completely and who go on to live a full life when they keep their lives balanced and centered on the most powerful healing energy in the entire universe: unconditional love.
I believe the reason I healed as quickly as I did was because I used medical qigong along with all that was available to me from Western medicine's understanding of nontoxic, natural therapies that worked in harmony with my body's innate healing capacity, not against it.
And while medical qigong isn't something that most of us know anything about, TCM is becoming increasingly recognized as a viable treatment for illness. More and more alternative healthcare clinics are including some aspects of TCM as allopathic practitioners come to more highly respect and trust this approach to health. Even high-tech oncology centers are using TCM, usually acupuncture and tai chi, to support their patients.
This healing journey has so profoundly impacted me that I want to go further in my training in medical qigong. It is one more way I can help others experience the abundant health I know is waiting for them.
What is qigong?
The cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), qigong is based on the belief that the body contains a network of energy pathways known as meridians, through which vital energy—called qi in Chinese—circulates. Illness is thought to arise from blockages in these pathways, while health is defined by free-flowing energy.
Qigong is an ancient system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation designed to facilitate the movement of qi throughout the body. It's said to bring benefits that include tranquillity and self-awareness, as well as enhanced health and healing.
In fact, recent research has shown that this 5,000-year-old mind-body technique may be a valuable tool for combating an array of modern-day health problems, from stress and high blood pressure to chronic pain and cancer.
In one study, Australian researchers tested the effects of a 10-week qigong program—involving two supervised 90-minute sessions per week, as well as daily home practice for at least half an hour—in 162 patients with a range of cancers.
Their results showed that qigong not only improved quality of life and mood compared with standard care, but also appeared to reduce inflammation in the body, suggesting that the practice might have an impact on cancer itself.1
There is also evidence showing that cancer patients who practice qigong have better
survival rates than those using conventional methods alone.2
Adapted from Beth Misner's new book, Healing Can Be Easy (available from Amazon.com)
Useful contacts and resources
Beth Misner: bethmisner.com
Ivan Misner: misnerplan.com
Spring Forest Qigong Center: www.springforestqigong.com
To find a qigong teacher or therapist near you, visit: www.qigonginstitute.org/directory