In just 99 days, 77-year-old Morty Lefkoe reversed all the signs of his colon cancer, even though it had spread and was at stage IV-the end-stage before death. He had abandoned chemotherapy after just three of the 18 planned courses because it didn't feel right to him, and his CEA levels-markers of cancer in the blood-dropped dramatically.
His oncologist said the chemo couldn't have had such a positive effect after just a few treatments, and it's unlikely the vitamin supplements he had been taking could have either. But there was something else-it was Morty's attitude to the cancer. "I never gave my cancer diagnosis any meaning. I wasn't scared; it was just something I had to deal with. Without the fear, my immune system wasn't affected and so it was able to help me deal with the cancer," he said.
That's a pretty unusual response to what for many would be a death sentence. But then, that's the sort of thing he's been teaching others to do for the past 30 years. Through his organization, the Lefkoe Institute, Morty has taught thousands of people and organizations how to overcome their anger, procrastination, fear and other mental blocks that stop us from living a fulfilling life. "It's down to our beliefs, and these beliefs form our reality of how the world is: I'm not enough, money doesn't grow on trees, or relationships are difficult, for instance. But these beliefs aren't true; they are just the meanings we've given to the events in our lives."
This realization came to Morty one day when he was sitting on a plane heading out from his home in Connecticut to California. At the time, he was a successful management consultant who had previously written regular columns on business and politics for The Wall Street Journal, Fortune magazine and other major publications.
Despite his success, he felt his life wasn't going in the direction he wanted; he had gone through two divorces, and he often thought of suicide. So, on the plane, he started writing a journal, where he outlined who he was and what he needed.
"I was unhappy and depressed, and I wanted to understand what was stopping me. I realized that I depicted myself as someone who could overcome all obstacles, who would carry on no matter what. So what did I need in order to experience what I thought I was? I needed obstacles and so, all the time, I was creating them in my life."
From that initial insight, Morty developed his method of eliminating beliefs. This method has been the subject of three studies with the University of Arizona, one of which has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. This study proved it is possible to overcome the fear of public speaking in less than four hours. Morty is so confident that his method can eliminate the fear of public speaking in this time that he offers a money-back guarantee to clients.
Eight years ago, Morty was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer that was controlled with acupuncture and herbal remedies, but eventually worsened and was successfully treated with a course of chemotherapy.
He continued to visit his oncologist for regular blood tests, but in March last year, she noticed his red blood cell counts were abnormally low. Further tests and a colonoscopy revealed that Morty had colon cancer. "If the cancer had not spread beyond the lining of the colon and it was removed surgically, the problem would be totally solved," said Morty, who lives in Marin County near San Francisco, California.
Morty prepared for the surgery, but just hours before the procedure he was told that the cancer had spread to his liver, and his CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) blood marker for cancer was 79, when a healthy score is below 2.5.
It was inoperable; it was stage IV, the final stage before death, and the only hope was a rigorous 18 rounds of chemotherapy. But even that wasn't much of a hope; the five-year survival rate for metastatic colon cancer is just 6 per cent. He had three rounds of the chemo and then stopped because, intuitively, "it just didn't feel right", even though the oncologist protested, and his family and friends feared the worst. "I'm not recommending that anyone else do this, but my intuition told me to stop," said Morty.
At the same time he started the chemotherapy, he also adopted a strict anticancer diet, and was taking 50 nutritional supplements a day along with 25 g/day of liposomal vitamin C. He also started exercising at the gym six days a week. "I hadn't exercised much before, and that was down to another belief I had. From high school, the boys who were into sports and workouts didn't seem particularly bright to me, and I wanted to be seen as an intellectual, so I didn't exercise!"
After just three courses of the chemo, and being on the special diet and supplements for two weeks, his CEA count dropped dramatically to just 23. This sudden drop was inexplicable, especially as he hadn't been on the chemotherapy or the diet long enough for either to have such a dramatic effect. "I don't really know what caused my sudden healing, but I had the strong intuitive sense that the real cause was mental," he said, and there were two factors at play.
The first was that Morty said he never took the cancer diagnosis seriously. "I told friends that my diagnosis of cancer was equivalent for me to a broken leg. I have to get it treated, have X-rays, a cast and crutches for a few weeks. But although a broken leg needs to be treated, it's not serious. That's how I felt about my cancer. Several of my friends thought I was in denial. They said my diagnosis was serious, but I just never experienced it that way."
The work of Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer seems to support Morty's mental attitude. In a study of cancer patients who had experienced spontaneous remission-where the cancer had simply inexplicably gone away-Langer found that these patients were not overwhelmed by the diagnosis, but treated it in a matter-of-fact way.
The second factor was that Morty didn't react to, and wasn't frightened by, the 6 per cent survival statistic. "I felt no fear, no anxiety, no upset of any kind. I didn't give the diagnosis or the prognosis any meaning. As a result, they didn't produce any negative feelings. And because I experienced no stress whatsoever, my immune system was not impaired the way it is for most people who experience fear when told they have cancer."
Just 99 days after being given the cancer diagnosis, Morty's CEA score had dropped to under 2.5, an indication that he was cancer-free. He still exercises six days a week and follows the diet, and his score has remained at the same level.
He's not out of the woods just yet, however. A PET (positron emission tomography) scan has shown cancer still in his colon and in other parts of his body, although his CEA score remains at 1.6. Whatever the prognosis, Morty continues to tackle what is thrown at him without attaching any special meaning to it; he's facing cancer without fear. "I didn't give it any meaning, which means I just acted. And without the fear that comes with the meaning, I was clear about what I had to do. I was just puzzled by people who kept wondering how I was. I was fine, and I had absolute certainty that I was going to be fine."
Mind over cancerCancer is seen as a progressive disease that passes through four stages and, if not treated, will probably end in death. But sometimes cancer inexplicably goes away and without any medical intervention. When it does, doctors call it 'spontaneous regression'.
Researchers from the Institute of Noetic Sciences investigated 1,574 cases and concluded that many factors were at play, including a sudden fever. But they also identified eight 'mental' changes that can bring about spontaneous remission.
These changes are:
1: A shift from dependency to autonomy combined with activities, attitudes and behaviours that promote increased autonomy and increased awareness of yourself, of others and your environment, and also an increase in love, joy, playfulness, satisfaction, laughter and humour.
2: Facing the crisis and having the power to find a new way of life that is fulfilling and meaningful.
3: Taking control of your life, including personal, professional, emotional, spiritual and medical aspects, and reappraising old beliefs that may no longer be appropriate or adequate.
4: Becoming comfortable with, and able to express, positive and negative emotions, and finding the ability to say 'no' when necessary for your wellbeing.
5: Having at least one strong, loving relationship and a connection with an organization.
6: Working in partnership with your physician.
7: Finding meaning in the experience of cancer, finding reasons to live and accepting the diagnosis, but not the prognosis, of cancer, and believing in a positive outcome.
8: Choosing activities that promote awareness and reduce stress, and showing renewed spiritual awareness that may lead to a spiritual practice such as prayer or meditation.
1- O'Regan B, Hirshberg C. Spontaneous Remission: An Annotated Bibliography. Petaluma, CA: Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1993
Morty's daily regimeMorty eats organic food at home, with grass-fed beef once a week, free-range chicken, wild salmon and other healthy fish, brown rice and green vegetables, and a glass of raw milk every day. For breakfast, he has sprouted whole-grain bread and eggs, and a large green salad with tomato, avocado, cucumber, seeds and nuts for lunch, sometimes with extra chicken or leftover fish. The following is his supplement plan.
Needless to say, consult a qualified, experienced practitioner before embarking on this programme yourself:
o Pien Tze Huang Yin Dan Ping Gan (a Traditional Chinese Medicine preparation), 1 capsule twice daily
o GcMAF Bravo Probiotic EasyKit (a special yoghurt containing cancer-fighting GcMAF), 1/2 cup daily
o Athletic Greens superfood powder, 1 Tbsp daily, in the morning with coconut water and protein powder
o Full Spectrum Mineral Caps, 1 capsule daily
o Vitamin C, 1,000-2,000 mg, one to three times daily
o Selenium Glycinate, 200 mcg daily
o PSK (Coriolus mushroom), 2 capsules twice daily
o Muscadine Plus (contains CoQ10, polyphenols and vitamin E), 2 capsules twice daily
o Cimetidine (Rx), 400 mg once daily.
Artemisinin (Wormwood, Allergy Research Group) protocol:
o First dose ideally about 30 minutes before breakfast. Take 2 capsules of artemisinin plus 2 capsules omega-3 EPA/DHA fish oil
o Second dose (same as first dose) is ideally 3.5 hours after dinner, but any time after 90 minutes is fine.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday only:
o Super Bio-Curcumin (curcumin extract), 2 capsules twice daily
o R-Lipoic Acid (300 mg), 2 capsules twice daily
o Vitamin D3 (5,000 IU), 2 capsules daily or 30,000 IU/week; to get to 70,000 IU/week, you'll need a current D3 blood test and a retest every 12 weeks.
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday only:
o HonoPure (honokiol, the extract of the bark of the Magnolia tree, used in Chinese medicine for cancer), 2 capsules twice daily
o Mega Green Tea Extract, 1 capsule twice daily, or propolis, 2 capsules twice daily
o Milk thistle extract, 1 capsule twice daily.
1 Psychology Today, 2000; 33: 28