This is a wonderful book, on so many levels. First, it is a very entertaining story. While reading an early draft of it, I was traveling to South Dakota to be with my wife and her 94-year-old mother, who was nearing the end of her life in an inpatient hospice in Sioux Falls. I nearly always work on my laptop computer during long flights, but on this flight, it remained under the seat in front of me, as I devoured Susan’s story. I was so engrossed in the book, that when I changed planes in Minneapolis, I left my laptop on the plane—something I had never done. I was already on the next flight to Sioux Falls when I realized it. Normally I would panic—I had a great deal of work that had not been backed up—loss of it would be a huge catastrophe to my work life. However, the state of mind I found myself in, reading the story of Susan, her journey with lymphoma, her meeting and studying in the wisdom of Miao, had put my own mind into a state of calm and trust. I knew I would get the computer back, and I did—four days later.
Susan’s book is also an inspiring story of one woman’s healing path, a story of integrative medicine, and a story of integrative spirituality. As a board certified medical oncologist and hematologist, I can say that the lymphoma Susan had—follicular large cell lymphoma, stage III—certainly had strong potential to recur after achieving a complete remission, which now, more than 5 years on, it has not. This does not, in and of itself, constitute a miracle. But it is very, very good. In science, when we deal with one unusual healing, or a handful of them, we cannot yet be sure if it represents something new and remarkable or simply an aberration that happens every now and then. But Susan’s journey, integrating the ancient wisdom of her Chinese/Tibetan teacher into her treatment, took her beyond the realm of current science.
It is my belief that each of us, when confronted with a life threatening illness, already holds within us the seeds of healing. The path to finding those seeds, nourishing them, and bringing them to fruition, is probably unique for every individual, just as our fingerprints, our DNA, and the aberrant genetic expression of every tumor that develops within us, is unique. Certainly there are principles that can be broadly applied, but it is up to each of us to discover our own unique path, our own unique combination. I think it is often a mistake for someone to try to copy the details of what another person did that resulted in their healing.
But there are some universal principles. If we are trapped in fear, and waging all out war against a disease, we won’t be able to hear or sense the clues of what it is our bodies, minds, and spirits need for healing. That is why it is so wonderful that in her final draft Susan has included actual exercises, in a self-help format, that you can do yourself to quiet your mind and manage challenging emotions.
In 40-plus years of practicing medicine, and most of that time focused on cancer medicine, I have learned that healing and physical recovery are not always the same. I have known people who physically recovered, but were not healed, and conversely, those who died, and yet were profoundly healed. Susan Sattler has had the great good fortune to discover a way to experience both healing and physical recovery. Her book holds many specifics for people drawn to follow a path similar to hers. There are also many principles that apply to a variety of different healing paths.
Above all, Susan shows us how she pays attention, stays alert to her subtle messages and listens to her intuition. She seeks out the best that Western science has to offer, while spending time every day to quiet her mind, nourish her body, and to remember that everything is connected. It’s a wonderful and mysterious universe that we live in—it can be terrible, and it can be enchanting. I invite you to take the ride that awaits you in these pages. You too can follow this path.