Friday, February 24, 2006

Just Believe

My brother (Dr. Jim) called me yesterday with interesting news about a clinical study that was being done on...Rogaine! This study has nothing to do with brain tumor treatment, but it was fascinating nonetheless.

The reason why this was so fascinating was that there was actually a placebo effect in this study. People who had the placebo treatment STILL GREW HAIR! Now, I could understand a placebo effect in something like a pain medication, where the power of suggestion could cause someone to feel better, but to think that someone could "believe themselves hairy" was really an amazing example of how the mind and body work together.

There was another study that Jim mentioned (can't remember the drug), that had an interesting result as well. It was meant to be double-blinded (as in, neither the patient nor the medical professional knew who was in the treatment group and who was in the placebo group). But in one facility some of the nurses thought they knew who was in which group, and the patients in the "believed to be treatment" group did better than those who were in the "believed to be placebo" group. What was so fascinating about this one is that ALL of the patients at that facility were placebo patients. So even someone else believing in the effectiveness of a treatment (on behalf of the patient) was making a difference.

It's an interesting thing to ponder, because we know that faith is an important component of any miracle. Faith is surely a key to unlocking the supernatural, and perhaps it also unlocks something that is already divinely planted within us to facilitate healing. No wonder the scriptures talk so much about requiring faith to be healed.

On a related note, I was talking briefly yesterday with my neuro-oncology nurse, who had called with my routine blood test results (yay - another week with white blood cells!) and as she chatted with me to see how I was doing, she commented on the value of a positive attitude. Those who give up don't do as well as those who are positive and fiesty.

Maybe my "inner beagle" will pay off. My favorite dog breed is the beagle. I grew up with a couple of them, and my husband and I have a fourteen-year-old beagle that we raised from a puppy. Buster the beagle is old now for a dog, and he has a heart condition and has been through two surgeries in the last couple of years, but he is still a spunky, merry little dog. Beagles have amazing tenacity. When Buster wants something, there is nothing that will stop him. I've heard stories of beagles tracking something of interest, and going after it so (pardon the pun) doggedly, that they continue even while leaving bloodied paw prints in the snow. So whenever I think of great tenacity, I think of someone having an "inner beagle".

And of course, because everything always ties together somehow for me, I was trolling through the scriptures and a passage jumped out at me about someone having had sufficient faith to be healed. I read that one and followed all of the footnoted scripture references. It was great, as always. Amazing things can happen when people believe.

And again this morning I read in Mark, chapter 9, where a man comes to Jesus with his son, who has a "dumb and deaf spirit". Jesus replies to him that "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." And the man replies, tearfully, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Ultimately the son was healed.

Sometimes being bombarded with medical realities can cause a feeling of "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Sometimes we need help to soften our hearts such that we can have sufficient faith to crowd out the doubt that tries to creep in. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by information about this cancer and how grim and devastating it is, a little voice reminds me, "Trust not in the arm of flesh," and, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

In other words, just believe.

1 comment:

krista said...

I know you must have meant Mark, not March chapter 9, but it is fun to think of a month being in the scripture! We're praying for you.