By Doreen Wachmann
JUDY Erel had been actively following a spiritual path for five years before her mother was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer in 1991.
Judy, who has just published the alternative self-help book, Dancing with Cancer (Watkins Publishing, £14.99), realised that “there must be some deep purpose in what was happening”.
But, truth be told, Judy and her mother were no strangers to spirituality.
She told me: “My mother and I always found it easy to speak to God.”
When, aged 20, American-born Judy was so ill that she nearly died, her mother told God: “If you want to take her, take her, but not this way.”
And He listened!
As a student in the late 1960s, Judy was much more interested in protesting the Vietnam War than in Zionism, which was currently fascinating her younger sister.
But when her parents offered her, on graduation, a free trip to Israel with the Zionist Organisation of America, Judy did not look a gift horse in the mouth.
Judy’s psychic aunt, who had kept a close psychic eye on the family since Judy’s grandmother had died early, predicted that Judy would not return from her Israel trip. She was right.
“I was in Jerusalem and realised that I couldn’t put Jerusalem in my suitcase,” Judy said. “I wasn’t leaving.”
Having read psychology books since her high school days, Judy studied educational psychology at the Hebrew University.
She then worked on cognitive development programmes with disadvantaged children. She later studied art and wrote poetry. She married, had three children and was divorced.
For five years before her mother’s diagnosis in 1991 in Florida, Judy had been meditating, practising tai chi and hosting meditation groups in her Herzliya home.
In the week before the first Gulf War, Judy’s mother called her daughter from her Florida hospital, asking her to come quickly to her bedside. Judy had been reading surgeon Dr Bernie Siegel’s ground breaking book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, about how terminally-ill patients could heal themselves through positivity.
She also took with her on her flight back to America, Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life. Hay, who had been abused as a child, claimed to have cured herself of “incurable” cervical cancer.
She believed that holding onto her resentment at the abuse and rape she had suffered as a child had contributed to the onset of her cancer and that her deep hurt and longstanding resentment had been eating away at her cells.
After an exploratory operation, Judy’s mother was told she had the most aggressive form of bladder cancer.
Her doctor told her she would need to undergo two cycles of chemotherapy and that, if that did not render her 100 per cent cancer-free, he would have to remove her bladder, after which she would survive.
Judy sensed that the doctor did not believe the chemo would work.
She persuaded her mother to believe that just one cycle of chemo would be enough to rid her of the cancer. The two women read two books on healing together.
When she came to Hay’s remarks about cancer coming from “deep hurt, longstanding resentments, deep secret or grief eating away at the self,” Judy felt that could not have been true of her mother.
But then she saw that her mother was crying, as she revealed to her for the first time that, nearly 70 years earlier, she had been sexually abused.
After playing her mother tapes of healing music with subliminal healing messages and working on a ‘happiness diet’ of only positive situations, Judy’s mother’s doctor could not believe it when just one cycle of chemo rendered her mother cancer-free.
She remained so till she died in 2013, at the ripe old age of 91.
Sixteen years after her mother’s diagnosis, Judy was diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma, bone marrow cancer.
Dancing with Cancer chronicles the alternative therapies she used to help her own chemo sessions get rid of all the buried negativity, which she believed helped to cause her cancer.
She told me: “After my experience with my mother I realised that the mind is the ruler. When I got sick I did what they told me to do conventionally, but I knew that if I wanted to get well, my mind had to support and be in front.
“I saw all the things in my life that I could examine and try to understand. I see cancer as being a lack of harmony that takes over. Non-harmonious emotion can make a little ripple, but if you keep going over the same emotion or it becomes very strong it, it can cause disease.
“I looked at all the things that had to do with me. I tried to understand where in my life I had clung to situations and how to release them.”
Divorced Judy had faced marriage betrayal and abandonment which had taken their toll on her physically.
Hay reckoned that her cancer of the bone marrow represented the “deepest beliefs about the self”.
Judy wrote: “I knew that the profoundly deep hurt of infidelity, betrayal and abandonment was the emotional core of my cancer. To heal such a deep wound, I had to release the patterns along with the pain they caused.
“I began to see cancer as serving my agenda: a tool to release what I no longer needed.”
It was emotionally painful, as well as physically, for Judy, who had for so long worked on positivity, to acknowledge and feel her negative emotions.
She said: “I did a series of very painful paintings after my divorce, but I threw them all away because I wanted my paintings to be of joy.”
But with the help of journaling, art and guided meditation, as well as the chemo, Judy kept her cancer at bay and survived later relapses.
She said: “I have no place for cancer, which is disharmony. My kind of cancer is called chronic. Cancer does not like love, light or good energy. It wants to take over.
“One’s mindset is very important not to give cancer a place to develop and grow. I had 10 years of quiet which was exceptional and now I am good again.”
After her first remission, Judy began giving inspirational talks about her experiences in order to help others facing serious illness as positively and constructively as possible, by using guided meditation and transformative art techniques.
Judy was then employed by Roche Pharmaceuticals’s Lend a Hand project, which supports patients waiting for doctors or chemo, as well as during chemo sessions.
She works in Israeli hospitals, using her artistic and meditative techniques to help cancer patients achieve more positive outcomes.
She said: “It is very rewarding, especially when I meet someone who is just getting their first chemo and is so afraid and uptight. My techniques calm them.”