Alongside these stories of survival and faith, the authors also include an introduction
to dream journaling and interpretation, allowing the reader to develop trust in their
dreams as a spiritual source of healing and inner guidance.
I know how true the contents of this book are from my personal and professional experience. Consciousness speaks in dreams, symbols, and visions.
The problem is that when our intellectual mind is controlling our thoughts
and images, inner wisdom cannot break through the barrier and enter our conscious mind and awareness. I learned that during sleep or when in a trancelike
state, in which we created images or heard voices speaking to us, our inner self
was free to present us with the wisdom and truth the intellect blocked us from
Dr. Larry Burk, a radiologist at Duke University, just completed a ground-
breaking study involving 18 women who had warning dreams preceding the
diagnosis of breast cancer. This book contains their stories and the stories of
other dreamers with dreams of different types of cancer and other illnesses that
came true. These dreams involved spirit guides, angels, voices, tactile intervention in the dream, synchronicities, symbolism, and visitations from deceased
loved ones. The dreams were all validated by a medical report.
I truly believe that the reason we sleep is not related to our need for rest
but to our need to be in contact with the infinite wisdom available to our consciousness associated with past, present, and future life events.
After attending an Elisabeth Kubler-Ross workshop, in which she asked
me to draw a picture for her, I became a believer. My drawing was an outdoor
scene previously created in my mind to use in meditations. I handed it to her.
She immediately asked me two questions: "Why is the number II important to
you? And, what are you covering up?" I told her I had been working with cancer
support groups for II months and was burying my painful feelings as a doctor
about all the people I couldn't cure or help. I asked what made her ask those
questions. She said there were II trees in the scene and I used a white crayon to
make snow on a mountaintop when the page was already white. So, I had added
a layer symbolic of covering something up.
It was incredible how much of my life was symbolically portrayed in a scene
I thought had no meaning and was merely a matter of my imagination, but
that experience made me go back to the hospital with a box of crayons and
start to ask my patients to draw pictures for me, as well as share their dreams
and intuitive wisdom. I was amazed at what I thought I was learning which no
one else knew because this type of work is never a part of the information you
receive while in medical school and training. An example is the fact that Carl
lung interpreted a dream and correctly diagnosed a brain tumor many years
ago, yet I have never met a medical student who was told that while in school.
This book is important because it shows us the unity of mind and body,
something the medical profession has a hard time dealing with. Many years
ago, I put together an article on dreams and drawings and sent it to a medical
journal for publication. It was sent back with the comment, "Interesting but
inappropriate for our journal." So, I sent it to a psychology journal, and again it
was returned, but this time the comment was, "It is appropriate but not interesting. We are aware of all this."
Healthcare practitioners and the general public need to access this wonderful source of wisdom, which can help in all phases of your life and is a gift from
our Creator. Even the Bible shares that God speaks in dreams and visions. So
quiet your mind and create the still pond that lets you see your true reflection,
just as it let the ugly duckling realize he was a swan.
Based on people's dreams and drawings, I frequently made decisions as to
whether they needed surgery or not and the best treatment for their disease.
One woman with cancer said she had a dream in which a cat named Miracle
appeared and told her which chemotherapy she needed to best treat her cancer. Her doctor agreed to do it, and she is alive and well. I named a kitten we
adopted Miracle. She lived for 20 years.
Another woman whose story is in my book A Book of Miracles had a dark-
skinned woman with an accent appear in her dream and tell her she had a lump
in her right breast that needed to be looked into. She awoke from the dream
and felt the mass in her breast. At the hospital, they diagnosed it as cancer and
told her that the doctor who would be in charge of her treatment would be
coming in a few minutes. When the door opened, in walked a woman doctor
from India, the same person as in her dream.
On a personal level, at one time I was experiencing blood in my urine. My
partners were all worried this was a symptom of cancer and urged me to get it
checked right away. That night, while sleeping, I dreamt I was running one of
our cancer support groups and asked everyone to introduce themselves and
state why they were there. When it was my turn to speak, before I could utter a
word, everyone said, "But you don't have cancer." As it turned out, I didn't.
And when I was questioning my ability to deal with and cope with death in
a healthy way, versus denial of my mortality as a doctor, I dreamt I was a passenger in a car that went off a cliff. All the other passengers were screaming in
fear while I sat back comfortable and relaxed, ready to accept my mortality and
coming death. The looks I got from the other occupants were quite something.
My experiences with my patients, their dreams and mine are numerous.
For me, there is no doubt or question that mind-body communication comes
through dreams. They reveal our past, present, and future to us.
One thing that many art and psychotherapists miss is. the anatomy that
appears in dreams and drawings, as it was not part of their training. A jaundiced
man drew a tree, which I knew revealed his bile ducts. I could see there was no
obstruction in the ducts that would require surgery, and that the small ducts
in the liver were blocked by an inflammation known as sclerosing cholangitis.
A woman who wondered whether she should have a mastectomy or a
lumpectomy drew a tree with all the branches ending as if they had been
pruned. It led her to say that the mastectomy was her right choice.
My mystic patient Monica, without any relationship or knowledge of my
parents and patients, calls me with messages and knows the names of the people she is calling me about and I know the truth she speaks. When my mom
died, the phone rang. It was Monica. "Your parents are together again and very
proud of you, and they are being shown around by a lady who likes chocolate
and cigarettes. Oh, it's Elisabeth Kubler-Ross showing your parents around." Yes,
Elisabeth was my friend and teacher. Monica knows nothing of the events, but
the infinite mind presents her with the truth to share with me, and allows us all
to communicate with all living things that are conscious, from animals to people.
A lawyer I knew said, "I came to a conclusion that was eminently reasonable,
totally logical, and completely wrong because, while learning to think, I almost
forgot how to feel." What I have learned from my experience is that we are
all multiple personalities. There is the thinker within us who does not always
make the right decisions because, like the lawyer, they think and worry about
what is correct while our unconscious and inner wisdom know what the right
path to follow is and the choice for us to make. What I am about to share is my
experience, and I believe what I experience. I am not blocked by preconceived
beliefs or my inability to explain something.
The day my father was going to die, while I was out walking a voice asked
me, "How did your parents meet?" I answered that I didn't know, and the voice
said, "Then ask your mother when you get to the hospital." As soon as I walked
into the room, that question popped out of my mouth. My mother answered,
"Your father lost a coin toss and had to take me out." My father died laughing
and looking fantastic because of my mother's stories. He didn't take his last
breath until the last person who was coming that day entered the room. It was
something he could not know, but it is just another coincidence of the wisdom
and awareness of our dream state and consciousness.
I hear voices, see images, have visions and prophetic dreams, communicate
with the dead and animals, and can be aware of the future and more. Yes, the
child in me is ever open to new experiences. Many of these will be shared in the
following pages to open your minds to our potential. We need to have a quiet
mind to see the truth. Myths and fairy tales reveal this by using the still pond
as the place to see your reflection and the truth about who you are: an ugly
duckling or a swan.
I met my spirit guide while meditating and have had two people draw his
picture and tell me he was standing beside me as I was lecturing and after a
sermon at a friend's funeral. They saw him and described details no one could
know who didn't truly see him. A third person even told me his name, which
I knew from our original introduction to each other in my meditation. They
helped me to understand that I was his voice and I have learned to let his wisdom flow through me as I speak.
Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos's profound story of dreams discovering her
cancer, which was three times missed by the medical community and the tests
on which they relied for early detection, yet discovered by her spirit guides in
dreams, was shared on the Dr. Oz Show titled "The Sixth Sense: Shocking Pre-
monitions." She wrote about her dreams in detail in her book Surviving Can-
cer/and: Intuitive Aspects of Healing, in which pathology reports confirmed the
One last point I would make is the importance of numbers in dreams and
life. Our life's experiences are literally stored within us and revealed by numbers. When a reporter drew a picture with only one hand on a clock pointed
at I2, and another woman drew a broken heart with 2I drops of blood, I asked
them what happened when they were I2 and 2I and then heard their traumatic
sexual abuse stories. I usually just question why the numbers portrayed are
meaningful because they are not always traumatic events. They can be pleasant
ones too, about family and life's joyful occurrences past, present, and future.
A vivid, more real-than-real dream that wakes you up and later comes true
is one of the most awe-inspiring experiences a human being can have. It
can be a life-changing event, especially when the dream is a compelling early
warning sign of serious illness that leads to life-saving medical intervention.
This unexpected intuitive information may actually prompt conventional diagnostic studies that turn out positive despite a lack of symptoms. The experience can create sufficient wonder at the mysterious workings of the universe to
shake up the worldview of even the most conservative healthcare professional.
Fear of cancer is a common concern in our society, as evidenced by the
many attempts to use technological screening tests for early detection with
varying degrees of success and controversy. The inspiration for this book came
from the first scientific study of dreams that warn specifically of cancer by Dr.
Larry Burk, which included Kathleen (Kat) O'Keefe-Kanavos as one of the participants. "Warning dreams preceding the diagnosis of breast cancer: a survey
of the most important characteristics," published in the 2015 May/June issue of
Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, reported the dreams of I8 women
from around the world.
Since publication, we have been gathering reports of other similar breast
cancer dreams, as well as warning dreams of many other types of cancer. These
dreams cover the entire spectrum, including brain, colon, lung, ovarian, prostate, skin, testicular, tongue, and uterine cancers. Some of the dreamers also
report continued use of their dreams for guidance and healing during therapy.
We are hopeful that this preliminary research will inspire enthusiasm and
funding for more rigorous studies to determine the evidence-based role of
dreams in cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
For those unfamiliar with dreams as they relate to health and dream interpretation in general, we will begin with a history of dreams in medicine in
the introduction. In Part One, we discuss the groundbreaking Breast Cancer
Dreams Project. The incredible stories of the breast cancer dreamers will be
presented in their own words in Part Two, with equally impressive dreams of
other types of cancer in Part Three. After hearing these amazing stories, we
hope you will be inspired to learn ways to enhance your own dream skills in
Part Four. Other non-cancer, health-related dreams will be addressed in Part
Five, and dreams for healing guidance will be included in Part Six. We are grateful to have a discussion of children's dreams by Drs. Kathi Kemper and Bernie
Siegel in Part Seven. Intuitive dreams about other people's illnesses will be
explored in Part Eight. Ideas about prevention, guidance, and spiritual implications will be summarized in the concluding Part Nine. The Appendices include
a number of resources for your own dreamwork.
One of the most difficult tasks to pull off during these complicated times is
open-mindedness. This is especially so when it comes to the importance of our
dreams. The work shared in this book goes beyond preaching to the dream-choirs
to enlighten and include anyone seeking a new perspective on the age-old subject
of dreams that can come true and save lives. This book is common ground.
Let's be open-minded about yet unseen but dreamed possibilities. Dreams
That Can Save Your Life spotlights exciting and new developments just outside
the boundaries of the medical norm concerning dreams and illness. Imagine
the possibilities of using dreams in the near future to predict or find earlier
stages of disease not yet detectable by current medical tests.
This book, and the studies, stories, and dreams presented in it, authenticates a reality that is an integral part of everyday and every night life-our
dreams. Which brings us back to our opening thought in writing this book: the
need for open-mindedness concerning dreams that save lives.
The Cocktail Party Effect
Why do so many of the dreamers in this book hear their name called during
the day, or at the end of a dream? This is known as the Cocktail Party Effect.
Experts in the field state that people are primed to detect personally significant
words, such as names that have particular meaning to them and taboo words,
such as sex, blood, death, cancer, dreams ... It may also describe a similar phenomenon that occurs when one may immediately detect words of importance
originating from unattended stimuli, for instance, hearing a loved one's name
in another conversation.
This auditory phenomenon allows most people to "tune in to" a single voice
and "tune out" all others, in a group, at a party, in a crowded place, or, in the
case of this book, in a crowded dream.
It is also our hope that these dream stories create another phenomenon
called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR).4,s It is an experience
of "low-grade euphoria," when something important rings true and creates tingling that starts at the back of your head and travels down your arms and spine
like you have been hugged by an angel.
Dreams have provided useful information in medical diagnosis for centuries, beginning in ancient times with the shamanic traditions of the
indigenous cultures around the world. Shamans dream intentionally for ailing
tribal members as well as interpret dreams that occur during a healing crisis to
provide therapeutic guidance." Often dreams were responsible for instructing
the shamans in the specific uses of medicinal plants. In The Way of the Shaman/
anthropologist-turned-shaman Michael Harner describes the phenomenon of
the "big dream," which is "repeated several times in the same basic way on different nights, or it is a one-time dream that is so vivid that it is like being awake,
an unusually powerful dream."
In Native American tradition, vision quests involve four days and four
nights of seclusion in nature seeking spiritual communication for guidance
and insight. The Lakota word for vision quest is Hembleciya." which translates
to "Crying for a Dream." According to the legendary Lakota Holy Man Frank
Fools Crow:" "My ancestors were all taught how to have sacred dreams. In these
dreams, all kinds of strange and beautiful things would happen, things that
never could take place in ordinary life. Strange beings would appear, and every
kind of creature would come in impressive forms. These visitors would speak to
the people and give them messages."
In ancient Greece, dreams were used in the Ascelpian temples for guidance
on health-related matters, but this fact has been largely forgotten in modern medicine." There is great irony in this statement, as these temples were
dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, whose rod with the single
entwined snake is to this day the symbol of medicine. Pilgrims would incubate
dreams overnight in the temples and report them to a priest the next day, with
the expectation of receiving an appropriate prescription for a cure. Particularly
effective dreams might even provide a spontaneous healing by themselves.
Dream incubation is a technique used to plant a dream-seed in the mind, in
order for a particular dream topic to occur, either for recreation, love, health, or
to attempt to solve a problem.
Centuries later, Sigmund Freud founded the field of psychoanalysis based
on his dream work in psychotherapy, which included analysis of his own personal dreams. His most famous dream report, about a patient named Irma in
I895, has been interpreted as being a foreshadowing of his death from mouth
cancer diagnosed in I923: "She then opened her mouth properly and on the
right hand I found a big white patch; at another place I saw extensive whitish gray scabs upon some remarkable curly structures which were evidently
modeled on the turbinal bones of the nose. I at once called in Dr. M., and he
repeated the examination and confirmed it."
Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, stated, "I take dreams as
diagnostically valuable facts," including their use in diagnosing medical conditions. In discussing "big dreams," he noted:" "Looked at more closely, 'little'
dreams are the nightly fragments of fantasy coming from the subjective and
personal sphere, and their meaning is limited to the affairs of every day. That is
why such dreams are quickly forgotten, just because their validity is restricted
to the day-to-day fluctuations of the psychic balance. Significant dreams, on the
other hand, are often remembered for a lifetime, and not infrequently prove to
be the richest jewel in the treasure-house of psychic experience."
While these two pioneering psychiatrists were bringing dreams back into
the realm of modern medicine, Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet of Virginia
Beach, gave over 14,000 psychic readings in the first half of the 20th century,
some of which included dream interpretation. Jerry Lazarus, an authority on
Cayce's approach to dreams," notes one reading specified that "Any condition
becoming reality is first dreamed. Another reading stated: "And too oft, ye
disregard them; or too seldom do ye pay any attention to them! They are parts
of thy experience. How often have you visioned in symbol or in dream those
very things that happened to thee later!?"
Russian psychiatrist Vasily Kasatkin published the first research correlating dreams with physical illness in his book The Theory of Dreams in I967.
An English report about this work was provided by Van de Castle. Kasatkin
based his observations on IO,240 dreams from I,200 dreamers, most of whom
had neuropsychiatric disease, including 44 cases of brain tumors and six cases
of spinal cord tumors, as detailed in a translation by Susanne van Doorn.
He noted the following common dream features related to the presence of
physical illness: I) an increase in dream recall; 2) distressful, violent, and
frightening images; 3) occurrence preceding the first symptoms; 4) long
duration and persistence; 5) content revealing the location and seriousness
of the illness.
English psychiatrist Robin Royston collected over 400 health-related dreams,
including the case of a man who dreamed of a Black Panther digging its claws into
his back at the exact site where his wife later discovered a mole that was diagnosed
as melanoma. His story of "Bad Nancy" describes a dream play on words reported
by a woman named Nancy who self-diagnosed her own breast "malig-nancy" in
a dream of her pounding on her chest and shouting that accusatory name." This
dream and four others of women who dreamed about their breast cancers before
diagnosis were described in detail in Healing Dreams by Marc Ian Barasch, including this observation by Royston: "These are not ordinary dreams, but big dreams,
archetypal dreams, so laden with powerful emotional affect that the dreamer is
forced to take them seriously.
Barasch was motivated to research healing dreams by his own personal
experience of dreaming his thyroid cancer diagnosis. Over a period of weeks,
he experienced a series of ominous dreams focused on his neck culminating in
one where "torturers had hung an iron pot filled with red-hot coals" under his
chin. He was compelled to visit a physician who could find nothing wrong. The
flood of nightmares continued until upon re-examination the doctor found a
thyroid nodule. Biopsy showed a malignancy that was subsequently cured by
In the introduction to his book, Barasch outlines a multidimensional model
for dream interpretation, which I have incorporated into my own approach. My
guide to working with a dream diary by writing down a question before going
to bed is summarized below and described in more detail with an illustrative
dream example in the appendix of my book Let Magic Happen: Adventures in
Healing with a Holistic Radioloqist.
1. Circle any words that seem to be unusual or out of place, and look
them up in a dictionary to check for wordplay or unexpected puns
related to your question.
2. Consider the dream from the personal, shadow, warning, sexual, social,
archetypal, synchronistic, and precognitive perspectives.
3. Check for any recurrent theme from past dreams, and pay attention to
any animals that visited you in the dream world.
4. Finally, ask yourself, What does the dream want? Give serious consideration to the possibility that the spirit world may have a question it wants
you to answer in return.
5. Sharing the dream with someone who can provide candid feedback may
provide a fresh perspective and additional insight.
Following this brief overview of the history of dreams in medicine, in Part One,
we will share the inspiration for the Breast Cancer Dreams Project, Kat's story,
a summary of the results of the project, a discussion of the dreaming e-patient,
and basic dream categories.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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