About the Film:
" There is solid evidence that the course of a disease in general is affected by emotional distress...Thus, we as doctors may begin to emphasize treatment of the patient as a whole as well as the disease from which the patient is suffering" (Getting Well Again, 28)
This medical documentary takes a critical look at modern oncology and analyzes the role of consciousness in the treatment of cancer.
The idea that consciousness plays a role in illness and recovery was a controversial topic brought to the public's attention by Dr. O. Carl Simonton, a radiation-oncologist studying the effects of emotional and psychological counseling in the treatment of cancer.
Dr. Simonton conducted an initial pilot study "aimed at distinguishing the effects of emotional and medical treatments to demonstrate scientifically that the emotional treatment was indeed having an effect" (Getting Well Again, 11). Over a period of four years Dr. Simonton treated 159 patients with a a diagnosis deemed "medically incurable" meaning these patients had no more than 12 months to live. Patients in this study, versus the control group of patients who received no emotional support, lived on average, twice as long. Four years later, an astounding 22% of those living after the study ended, showed no evidence of disease. These results were scientific proof that emotional intervention does indeed play a large role in how a patient will respond to their experience with cancer, whether that be their response to treatment, survival rate, or their quality of life. The main message to be taken away from this study was that there was hope for patients deemed "terminally ill," and that a patient could participate in their recovery and possibly influence the course of their disease.
Unfortunately the medical community did not respond to these published reports with as much enthusiasm as Dr. Simonton.
In 1981 the American Cancer Society placed Dr. Simonton on their "Quack List" otherwise known as the Unproven Methods List, for his work in addressing the importance of emotional and psychological support for cancer patients. He is the only board-certified radiation-oncologist to ever be placed on this list. He is also the only person to ever be removed from the list. After 19 years, Dr. Simonton was quietly removed but there was no public apology ever sanctioned for their attempt to derail his entire career.
In this film you will not only come to understand the work of Dr. Simonton and the controversy that plagued his pioneering efforts, you will also meet five cancer patients from all walks of life. These patients are all battling aggressive cancers, trying to balance their traditional treatments with the teachings of Dr. Simonton, and exploring the power of hope in their emotionally and physically challenging journeys. We will be speaking with oncologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, cancer survivors, social workers and therapists from around the globe in an attempt to understand the power of hope and belief in the fight against cancer.
"The public will not ask for what they do not know exists. This film seeks to introduce the public to these concepts in an attempt to create a place for the emotional treatment of cancer in modern oncology."
- Elizabeth Simonton
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Simonton Cancer Center:
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