From Cancer With Faith And Mysticism
“Life is full of surprises,” I closed the book and put it on my study table. “Every biography of a cancer patient tells surprising stories of faith and reason.
“What were you reading?” Lulu, my parrot, was perched on the window grill and he hopped on the table.
“It’s Dr. Arvind Bavdekar’s book, ‘Cancer Majha Sangatee’, meaning cancer, my companion. It is not a biography; he tells his life story from the point he was diagnosed of stomach cancer. It is simply amazing.”
“That must be a story of pain and suffering.”
“Not really. It is a story of unusual decisions, exceptional decisions, I should say. And of experiences which can’t be explained by reason and by a rational mind.”
“That sounds interesting. There is so much about life which people neither know nor understand. We often do not know why people make some decisions, and yet those prove to be right for them.”
“So true, Lulu. Dr. Arvind Bavdekar, the author, was a surgeon who had operated on several cancer patients. He knew the treatment for his cancer. But he decided not to undergo chemotherapy. And, mind you doctors had said that his life expectancy would be between six months to two years.”
“What! I can’t believe this. Why would he not accept chemo?”
“He decided to ‘add life to his years and not years to his life’. He also decided to look for therapy which alternative medicines offer.”
“That is not uncommon. May patients do it.”
“But here was a successful doctor practicing allopathy who was looking for answers in ayurveda, Tibetan medicine and the like. Dr Bavdekar’s resolve of rejecting chemo became stronger after undergoing the first dose of chemo. He firmly refused chemo.”
“That must have been hard on his family.”
“Sure, it must have been. In his search for alternate medicine, he met many people. Finally, he concluded that positive approach to life and strong beliefs can have great, almost magical, healing effect.”
“You remind me of Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book, ‘The Biology of Belief.’ He claims that ‘beliefs control human biology rather than DNA and inheritance. A must-read book.”
“Yes, I have seen you reading it.”
“But mainstream science ignored Dr. Lipton.”
“That’s what happens to people who advance an unconventional view which is unpalatable to scientists.”
“You reach the truth in two ways – one through experiments as the allopathy does, and the other through experience. Such are the limitations of science, nay scientists. Tell me what did Dr. Bavdekar observe?”
“In alternate medicine he mentions effectiveness of ‘Bibba’ (Semecarpus anacardium) in treatment of cancer. He mentions that a lady whose cancer was at an advanced stage lived till she was ninety-four. She was using Bibba drops.”
“He mentions many cases where patients lived long enough after being diagnosed of cancer; faith had healed them. (Dr. Bavdekar lived for more than ten years after refusing chemo!) He read a book on Gondavalekar Maharaj, went to his Ashram and found peace of mind. He then regularly devoted a week in a month for performing operations and giving medical advice to people who came to the Ashram. People firmly believed that Maharaj’s blessings cured their ills. He saw enough evidence of healing by faith.”
“Many people say that they had an experience there which they can’t describe. What was his conclusion?”
“He does not say anything conclusively. Dr. Bavdekar mentions that there are things in the realm of unknown. He says that the patient must make the choice.”
“I understand him. It is experimental knowledge versus experiential knowledge. Several cases show that both work. People with scientific and rational but open mind like Dr. Bavdekar recognize the dilemma.”
“You put it well.”
“And when the scientific mind faces dilemma like this in discussion, they understand mysticism and speak like a mystic.” I looked at Lulu who had moved to the window. The sun was setting and the golden rays of dusk gave a golden tinge to his wings.
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Pic courtesy Aurelien Romain on Unsplash
He decided to ‘add life to his years and not years to his life’. applies to all us – makes sense yet most of us dont behave like that at least till we have lived most of our life
You said it.
The biology of belief is one of the most amazing books I read. It scientifically explained what a lot of people were saying. You can heal your life and biology of belief are 2 books which have helped me a lot.
So true, Dr Anita. Thanks for leaving a comment.
I am moved by your this blog. Thanks. I appreciate your sharing the central theme of Dr. Bavdekar’s book. What touched ne is that he made a choice and owned it firmly. Also, because I am myself a cancer survivor. Your blog helped me to look at myself, rejoice at my own uniqueness and the choices I made after I was told that I have been diagnosed with cancer. And so my story began….
Thanks for this amazing post 🙏🏻
I have experienced Sanjeevan therapy (though not for cancer ) but for other common problems.
I can say that if a patient can trust a therapy then it works wonders. A combination of spiritual and medicinal aspects!
A great summary bringing out the gist of the book.of Dr Bavdekar’s experience. I am not so sure about mysticism but I believe that the human body or the genes through millions of years of evolution that developed the human body developed it as an amazing machine and each of us are unique. The human body or any physical body fights to stay alive….whilst all of us are terminally ill….it’s the randomness in things, events and occurrences that we try and give meaning to and seek patterns in the randomness to provide us an anchor ….we are born due to randomness…live our lives due to random occurrence and finally depart due to a random occurrence …so in this random life and experience I like Dr Bavdekar’s line…adding life to years ….
Very Inspiring and motivating message.
The quality of life is as of not more important as the quantity of life ! Adding life to years sums it up ! Mysticism, alternate medicine is resorted to as the last resort and not first choice. Perhaps because rational human brain looks for explanations which is hard to come by in faith healing ! Not on mysticism & alternate medicine but on palliative care and adding years to life, have read this outstanding book by Dr Atul Gawande called ‘Being Mortal’ !
The questions trouble my mind are “Should one denounce allopathy? Should one choose a path of mental peace through a Guru and his Ashram denouncing the routine life? Are these paths meant when we approach our end? Does it mean our lived life was a waste? ….”
I guess the line about adding life to years rather than years to life will resonate with all. I am not sure if I will have the courage to follow through on a tough decision like Dr Bavdekar did. Even accepting that there are as yet unexplored realms in science, denouncing known science for alternate science/mysticism is a disturbing choice.