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I Stopped My Care To Listen
Nov 9, 2023

Reading time 3 min.

It has been a bit over four months since my diagnosis and treatment for colon cancer. My physician has proclaimed that I am in complete remission. I have shared my journey of diagnosis and healing in the blogs I have posted. I still carry a profound sense of gratitude for finding resolution and healing with just surgery. No chemo. No radiation.

I received a lot of comments and feedback from others going through their own experience of cancer. There was a common thread in what people shared. The following is a summary of what was shared; Receiving a diagnosis of cancer creates a flood of emotions and uncertainty. It can be a stark reminder of how fragile life can be. It often compels a person to confront the existential questions of their life. How does anyone reconcile the dilemma they face in what appears to be a bleak future?
We all must find our own path of acceptance, understanding, and healing as we navigate through uncertain and difficult times. This blog post is about my journey of healing. Healing not only physically but emotionally and spiritually, finding my way back to a deeper sense of my being.

I was driving home from my girlfriend's house. The drive is part of my Monday morning ritual. I usually default to listening to NRP. On this morning, the host was talking about the death of Dr. Roland Griffiths on October 15th and replayed an interview with him prior to his death.

Roland Griffiths, Ph. D., was a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences and the founding director of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He passed away on October 15th at the age of 77. The cause of death was colon cancer.
In August 2006, he published a groundbreaking paper. The paper had an unusual title: "Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance."

Eighty percent of the participants in his study described the experience of psilocybin as among the most revelatory and spiritually meaningful episodes of their lives, akin to the death of a parent or the birth of a child.

Their experience had all the attributes of a mystical event. They described profound feelings of joy, love, and, yes, terror, along with a sense of interconnectedness and even an understanding of a sublime, sacred, and ultimate reality. A significant number of Dr. Griffith’s research participants were cancer patients.
The ultimate irony is that Dr. Griffiths was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in November 2021. After receiving the prescribed treatments, he passed away 12 months after his diagnosis.

In the NRP interview, Dr. Griffith shared some thoughts about his diagnosis and own personal experience with psilocybin. Following are a few quotes from the interview: "Cancer is a hard reality to confront." "I had to confront my fear, anxiety, and resentment." "We are all taught that we need to go to war with cancer, there is little thought of acceptance of our existence and our circumstances." "Humans might be the only beings aware that we are aware. And we are the only ones that can affirm that for ourselves."

Dr. Griffith’s description of his and the study participants’ experience of psilocybin are very much in alignment with my own. I'm not suggesting that psilocybin is the "answer" for everyone. I am not in any way promoting or encouraging the use of psychedelic medicine. I am merely sharing my journey and what worked for me. I'm only suggesting that it is one way to understand the existential question of our life and death.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.

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