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DrMiller_creighton_magdalen104-08-16  Healing Cancer: A Conversation with Maggie Creighton

As part of our new series on “Healing Cancer,” Dr. Miller will interview Maggie Creighton, a near legend in cancer self-care. Now, you may not recognize that name right off, but if you have heard of support groups for cancer patients, you are aware of some of her contributions.

Back in the 1970s, Dr. Miller was hard at work developing and teaching his holistic approaches to human health care and healing in the then-emerging field of mind-body medicine. At the same time, back in Dallas, Texas, the extraordinary Carl and Stephanie Simonton were using similar techniques, such as meditation, imagery, and cognitive restructuring.

Although Dr. Miller’s work and teachings explored the power of these mind tools across the entire range of human physical, mental, and emotional illnesses, Carl and Stephanie had narrowed their focus; applying these tools to the single, very important illness we call Cancer. Soon they were joined by Maggie and Jim Creighton, who could also see that by changing the way people looked at their cancer – by changing the mental images people held of what it was that was harming the health and balance of their bodies, they could change the outcome of their illness.

By teaching people tools for affecting how frightened or empowered they felt, what their expectations were, and even how they really felt about death, they saw not only the qualities of people’s lives improving, but also their illnesses.

And the impacts were huge. Sure, this is no big news story now, many years later; we have so many studies demonstrating the value of essentially all of the techniques we were using. But back then it was. Together they produced the self-healing blockbuster, Getting Well Again.

Not long afterward, Maggie and Jim then moved north to the San Francisco Bay area and contacted me. Together we opened the world’s second patient-oriented cancer support and education center. In addition we developed the first training programs, providing hands-on healing experiences for interns, who then spread our ideas throughout the country. Now it is rare indeed to find a hospital or health center that did not provide for cancer patients to meet in support and education groups. Before that, there were none!

Our center remained open, teaching our approaches, for 20 years, closing when there were more than 50 other centers in the San Francisco Peninsula alone. Lately, however, Maggie has come back to town and agreed to share with us some of the thrills and spills of creating a seismic shift in how we understand and treat cancer. Moreover, as you will learn, there were some special approaches and perspectives that were central to our work that the System has not yet learned to incorporate. If you, or someone you know is dealing with the challenge of cancer, you really should listen to this wise woman as she shares her personal experiences helping people with cancer get well again – and enjoy listening to these two old friends and co-conspirators reconnect.

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