Beating All Odds

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Since 2003, I have examined the medical records for over 100 survivors of incurable and fatal illnesses, and what I’ve discovered is patterns and principles behind these miracles. In other words, there is nothing spontaneous about what are called spontaneous remissions from illness-nothing miraculous about miracle healings. This realization has changed me, not only as a person, but also as a physician and as a theologian.
What remains astonishing to me is how little we have used science to study these individuals. Documented stories of remarkable recoveries-modern stories supported by irrefutable medical evidence-are not flukes or anecdotes in the same way that the accomplishments of great athletes like Serena Williams or Michael Jordan are not flukes and anecdotes.
Looking back, when Bob Beamon smashed the Olympic long jump record by nearly two feet at the 1968 Olympics, other athletes and scientists immediately tried to figure out how he did it and how to beat it-even though breaking that new record took almost 23 years. Yet when something similar happens in health care-when someone who has been essentially condemned to death by the medical system suddenly gets better-it’s as if the system is embarrassed.
Too often, these remarkable individuals are seen as threats to the system rather than inspirations. Too often these cases are dismissed without examination.
“Spontaneous” means “without cause,” but the truth is that we mostly haven’t looked for the cause. When we do look closely at these individuals, what we find is great courage, a strong work ethic, and a huge capacity for change and growth. If you stop to think about it, these are people we should most want to study. They have stumbled on golden keys to health and healing that we should all want to understand.
Although I am a physician, I should say at the outset that I began examining these amazing stories not to heal a disease or to extend life-we all die at some point-but because I needed to know what is most true about living.
I was raised on a farm with an Amish background far removed from common cultural traditions, and I saw firsthand how religion isn’t always associated with life and
vitality.
I had a lot of questions and skepticism about spiritual truth in general. However, I decided that if spiritual or mental principles exist that are true enough to heal physical bodies from “incurable” diseases, then perhaps these are universal principles of life and vitality that I could trust.

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