The Active Antidote: Cancer as a Disease Process

Mark Hancock, MD

Cancer strikes fear into a person in a deeper way than perhaps any other diagnosis. Fear is a sense of loss of relationship with one’s destiny and purpose. It is an excarnating reaction. Some people react with a calm resignation, which is the other side of this same response. Many people with cancer already have the feeling that life is going by very fast. They feel like spectators at a standstill. The medically important conventional treatment options (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) all emphasize treating the body as a diseased entity with little regard to the relationship with our inner being’s turmoil. This over-objectification of the human body epitomizes the entire problem of cancer. Our soul-spiritual has been too distant to a process going on in our body and in our life. Though cancer is hundreds of diseases, it can be described accurately as a process where our body creates a distorted version of ourselves—

one that can endlessly proliferate and move beyond spatial confines. Thus cancer asks us to develop courage and look at our own power to make life choices. The role of anthroposophic biography work becomes pivotal in our intended process. Life events (including cancer and its treatment) should no longer happen to a person, the person can take a decisive, active role in all these events. Art therapy, music therapy, and eurythmy therapy allow a strengthening and reorientation of these soul-spiritual forces in an active way—patients are participants. Use of complementary herbs and other treatments should not be used as only a way to improve a lab value or because they “might work.” A much deeper question: “is this part of my path right now?” should be answered, ideally with the input of a trusted and unbiased healthcare provider. It is no surprise we find a strong, decisive “I activity” present and supported by the nine common factors Kelly Turner found in patients who had unexpected cancer remissions.

The Nine Common Factors in People with Radical Remission

Changing your diet

Taking control of your health

Following your intuition

Using herbs and supplements

Releasing suppressed emotions

Increasing positive emotions

Embracing social support

Deepening your spiritual connection

Having strong reasons for living

From Kelly Turner’s book: Radical Remission

On a cellular level even healthy people generate cancer cells all the time. Typically our immune cells such as our T lymphocytes or Natural Killer cells will quickly find these cells and remove them—this is called elimination. This function of the immune system is a microscopic symbol of looking at our self and asking “is this really me?”. Where the answer is no, we make decisive life changes. The equilibrium phase is when a cluster of cancer cells is held in check perpetually (or nearly so) by the immune system. Some states of remission are examples of equilibrium between cancer and the immune system. Escape is the third state where cancer evades or overwhelms the immune system and proliferates. This picture shows that we have within us (or better said, we are acting as) a power that continuously strives for a healthy state. Supporting this power we can shift the cancer/immune state towards elimination or equilibrium. For example, one dear patient of mine came to me 10 years after being on Iscador injections he started for abdominal mesothelioma, a rare tumor—his initial prognosis was survival for a few months. He needed refills as he had outlived his oncologist—mistletoe had kept him in equilibrium for years.

Cancer therapies, both complementary and conventional, require understanding the anthroposophic fourfold human being and how each therapy is working there. The fourfold human being is an integration of physical body, etheric (life) body, astral (soul) body, and I organization. These interact in complex ways. Our biological processes are but an outer indicator. Rudolf Steiner made the curious statement cancer is due to a sense organ process occurring in the wrong place. Matthius Girke, MD, describes how there is a polarity between the sense organs and the exocrine glands (glands like sweat, mammary, and pancreas—where cancer often arises). The exocrine glands have a strong metabolic activity, while at the same time relating to soul states. Sweating, crying, digestion, and milk let down are all deeply affected by emotions—the astral and I work deeply into these glands. These higher elements are important to keep the metabolic growth processes in check. Our sense organs are far more selfless and detached. If our I and astral activity detach from the metabolically busy exocrine gland, cancer results. It has recently been found that the micro ribonucleic acids essential in forming our retina and inner ear are also overexpressed in the development of multiple types of cancer. We find here a physical marker supporting Steiner’s assertion.

Due to the withdrawal of the I and astral body, cancer cells possess characteristics quite unlike the characteristics of healthy cells. Cells grow competitively instead of cooperatively. They often use fermentation of sugar instead of fully metabolizing sugars even in the presence of oxygen. This is called the Warburg effect and the basis for how PET CT scans work. The lack of respiration points to the withdrawal of the astral, as does the tendency towards de-differentiation. Cancer cells become more like unicellular organisms than our own cells—their readiness to mutate their genes occurs by similar pathways. A survey of many differing tumors found them to be driven into a similar archaic state to unicellularity. All of these characteristics point to various integrative therapies. Diet, hyperbaric oxygen, sauna, and the human-centered integrative anthroposophic therapies can be used with a directed purpose.

Lack of prior episodes of fever is common in people with cancer. Having a lack of febrile episodes can raise the risk of contracting cancer by anywhere from two to 40 times. Spontaneous remissions occur following fever with a remarkable frequency. Though it is not common, it is possible to induce fever using mistletoe. Fever gives the I organization the ability to work in a healing way against cancer. In many of my patients that have opted for fever therapy there have been other remarkable healing effects. One woman with a large, hard, fungating breast tumor had a lucid dream of herself patting her tumor and telling it “it’s time to go now” and for the first time felt free from severe chronic anxiety. Her tumor had a subsequent softening and then robust regression. A few have processed old childhood trauma which had been stuck for years. Others simply feel confident and less fatigued.

Starting with the problem of fear and resignation to life events, we are brought to the antidote. Patients can take an active role in their treatment and more importantly in their destiny. Working in an anthroposophic way we can understand and use healing modalities to achieve healing for the entire human being.


Mark Hancock, MD, lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Enid and six daughters. He works integratively with cancer and sees patients at Humanizing Medicine.


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