In 1991 a French neuroscientist by the name of David Servan-Schreiber was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
He was 31, in the prime of his career, and when some students didn’t show up to be the “guinea pigs” on their MRI experiments, David volunteered to have the images done of himself instead.
Incidentally, this is when they found he had a brain tumor the size of a walnut. This ended up being malignant and his whole world was drastically changed.
This led to him devoting the rest of his life to natural, holistic treatment of his cancer and in furthering cancer research. Despite his grim prognosis which was less than year, he was able to live another 20 years and his findings are documented in his fascinating book, Anticancer: A New Way Of Life.
Now I have to be careful when writing anything on the subject of battling cancer. It is a touchy, touchy topic because people are really suffering out there. Almost everyone knows somebody with it. It is a dreadful thing for anyone to go through and looking at the current statistics it seems that many of us will be facing it in some form or another, at some point in our lives.
David Servan-Schreiber’s book is helpful in a number of ways. While he did undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, his main focus and mode of experimentation and success was the power of the body itself in battling cancer.
The Immune System
One of his driving theories was that the key to inhibiting cancer growth is the power of the immune system and habits that prevent inflammation within the body. Cancer cells flourish in individuals whose immune systems have been weakened.
A strong immune system (especially with the likes of NK cells and while blood cells) can help keep cancer cells at bay, and this is a good thing as cancer lies dormant in all of us.
This book is largely a manual for keeping a strong immune system and creating habits that keep the body from inflammation. This can be achieved by a healthy/proper diet, physical activity involving the entire body, etc.
What I found particularly intriguing is that our immune cells are also sensitive to our emotions. In his book he states:
“(Immune cells) react positively to emotional states characterized by a sense of well-being and a feeling that we are connected to those around us. It’s as if our immune cells mobilize all the better when they are in the service of a life that is objectively worth living.”
He then gives this chart:
(This chart does not necessarily reflect the views and is not endorsed by this site, i.e. “one’s homosexuality.”)
The column on the right contains the habits that activate immune cells (good), while the column on the left the habits that inhibit immune cells (bad).
Now look at four of these: Serenity, Joy, Support from family and friends, and Acceptance of self with one’s values and past history.
These are specific things that can better activate the body’s immune cells, which in turn help in battling cancer and keeping cancer at bay.
Do you see what I see?
No, not a star with a tail as big as a kite.
But I see this: The Christian, in theory, should have a particular outlook and faith, as new creatures in Christ, that help to promote an active and healthy immune system which is vital in battling cancer.
Thus, a joyful, thankful, child of the God of the universe, with a church community of brothers and sisters who care about him or her, acceptance and adoption by God through Jesus Christ, who is content in the fact that God ultimately works all things for Good to those who love him, should have bodies that are primed for battling cancer!
Is this too bold a statement? Am I jumping the gun?
Well look….yes God is sovereign of course. And, we live in a sin-riddled world in which all of our bodies are deteriorating (though our inner self is being renewed day by day). There is no guarantee for any of us in general and there is not guarantee that any of us will have another cancer free year, regardless the age or the physical condition.
I understand this.
Yet, as a general statement, the Bible tells us that these (the above) are traits of the Christian.
Four Cancer Fighting Traits Of A Christian
Let’s look briefly at these four.
Christians often face despair, hard or sudden loss of loved ones, tragic circumstances, etc. This comes with a fallen world. Servan-Schreiber devotes a whole section of the book despair/hopelessness and the havoc it wreaks on the body.
But what does James (the brother of Jesus) tells us?
He tells us when we meet trials of various kinds, to “count it all joy!!” This produces steadfastness and we are to let this steadfastness have its full effect that we “may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
How do we count everything, the bad and the good, “all joy.”
By realizing that every circumstance that we face has a specific purpose. These circumstances are there to conform us into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29). Our God sovereignly is working all things according his will, and for good, and it takes the very circumstances we face for that to happen.
Paul tells us we are to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” as well as to “rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:2-3).
He states in his letter to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always!”
Tim Keller, referencing Romans 5, says:
“Joy is the great marker of the justified person. It is unique to Christianity, because it does not depend on your circumstances or your performance……You are free to see suffering (as it is happening, not merely afterwards) in a way that only gospel faith produces: as something that does not touch your joy, for what you have lost in your suffering (comfort, health, wealth, and so on) was not where your joy is found.”
As Christians, our sin (past, present, and future), has been covered in the blood of Christ. Not only that, but we have been “credited” righteousness through faith in Christ (Romans 4:3). We are sons of God (8:14), we can approach him as “Abba! Father!”. The Spirit he has given us testifies to us that we are his children, and we are “fellow heirs with Christ.”
What a hope! What a future!
Given the above, that we are accepted by God, “What shall we say to these things?” What assurance do we have? These marvelous promises:
- If God is for us, who can be against us (v. 31)
- He who did not spare his own Son….how will he not also give us all things? (v. 32)
- Who shall bring again charge?…it is God who justifies (v. 33)
- Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died….who was raised….is interceeding for us.
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Regarding social isolation, the chances of this is slim in a thriving and faithful church community. It is here you get to worship together, pray for one another, build one another up, and enjoy fellowship in this life.
Be joyful in all things! Enjoy subjective peace (Phil. 4:7) as well as objective, “legal” peace with God (Romans 5:1). Know that you are accepted, that you have assurance in Christ. In sufferings, count it all joy.
These eternal truths will primarily see you through all of life, no matter the circumstances.
In addition, a lifestyle grounded in these truths secondarily serve to keep your immune system strong and vibrant, which works to keep cancer cells at bay and at battling cancer in general. .
Don’t think the two of these are just a coincidence!
Our God is gracious in all his ways!