Author says dreams helped detect cancer, avert death

Wanda Burch, a cancer survivor, say she’s alive today because of her dreams. The Glen resident keeps

Wanda Burch say she’s alive today because of her dreams.

“I began keeping a dream journal about two years before my diagnosis of breast cancer, and I had some disturbing dreams but I really didn’t pay attention at the time,” said Burch, 61, who lives in the hamlet of Glen, with her husband, Ron.

Eighteen years after her cancer diagnosis, Burch continues to keep a dream journal, and through her book “She Who Dreams,” (New World Library $14.95) and dream seminars throughout the Capital Region, she attempts to teach others how to tap into the wisdom that she says lives within each of us.

“We all dream,” said Burch, who has worked as site manager at Johnson Hall State Historic Site in Johnstown for 34 years. “But most of us do not keep journals. Until you begin working with your dreams, they may seem a little crazy.”

One of the dreams Burch had before she knew she had breast cancer involved her grandfather, who had died many years before.

“I was traveling in a car and there was a compass in the front of the car, but instead of a directional compass it was filled with stars,” said Burch. “He pointed to it and told me to pay careful attention to the stars, which were on the left side and sort of sprinkled, and I realized when I woke up, I was very uncomfortable about this dream.”

Burch went for her annual mammogram and was told that everything was fine, but she told her gynecologist that she felt that something was wrong. She had also been having pain in her left breast.

Frightening message

Then, in 1990, Burch decided to go on an expedition trip to Ghana, West Africa, where she had the following terrifying dream:

“My father, who had died the year before, came into my bedroom and was pulling a doctor from the Mayo Clinic,” she said. “My father shouted at me, ‘You have breast cancer. Do something about it now because they won’t believe you.’  ”

It was a very simple yet terrifying dream, Burch recalled.

When she returned home, she asked to have an ultrasound that showed the possibility of something suspicious, but she was advised to take a wait-and-see approach.

Instead, she demanded to have a biopsy and learned she had a type of breast cancer that the surgeon later described as looking like a spray of stars.

The day Burch was diagnosed with breast cancer, she came home and walked into her empty house, alone, angry, afraid and confused. She closed her eyes and had what she calls her first dream of healing.

“I had a dream in which I held my left breast over a pan of water, turning it over, pointing to the exact location of the cancer, and squeezing the breast like a sponge into the water, dark fluid flowing into the bowl,” said Burch. “That image, pinpointing the location of my cancer and the image of squeezing the sponge breast until the poisonous liquid flowed into the bowl became my first healing images.”

Burch, who had a modified radical mastectomy, learned from her surgeon that she had a rapidly growing, aggressive tumor that had not metastasized. He also told her if it had not been for her dreams, she would have been dead within a year.

Healing images

“In that healing journey, between the original diagnosis and through the period of six chemotherapy treatments, my dreams would change and give me new images,” said Burch.

In one image, Burch saw herself sitting in the chemotherapy room. Except instead of being filled with toxic poisons, the chemo bag was filled with healing energy.

From that point on, whenever Burch had a treatment, she closed her eyes and imagined healing energy going into her veins.

“I had dreams of bridges being repaired, and of ladders with broken steps being repaired,” said Burch. “I had a wonderful dream near the end of chemo in which I saw myself walking through a field of body parts being washed in hyssop and putting a new body back together. That became a wonderful meditation for me as I continued to keep my journal.”

“Dreaming is healing,” said Robert Moss, author of “Conscious Dreaming.” “Our bodies speak to us in our dreams giving us early warning of symptoms we might develop, showing us what they need to stay well. Dreams give us fresh and powerful images for self healing.”

Rexford oncologist Dr. John Jaski adds: “ ‘She Who Dreams’ is a fascinating story of a woman’s ability to harness psychic energy through dreams and convert it into healing powers.”

Keeping a journal is the first bit of advice Burch has for people who want to start remembering their dreams.

“I’ve discovered that if I look back in my journal and look at some dreams that made absolutely no sense to me at the time, sometimes years later I can say, ‘Oh now I know what that dream was about,’ ” said Burch.

Burch suggested going to bed with the intention of remembering your dreams and keeping a notebook or tape recorder next to your bed.

She also suggested jotting down the stories of your day, particularly if you are dealing with a health problem.

“Writing is a way of bringing what is inside out,” she said.

Burch says that dreaming is a gift that not everyone uses often enough.

“It’s a tool for solving problems and working with almost anything that comes up in our lives, and it’s certainly a tool for healing,” she said.

Key methods

Burch said some other keys to healing with dream imagery include:

u Catalog and explore your dream images — those that you can work with and use for your own healing prescription.

u Trust your spontaneous imagery. A woman with colon cancer dreamed about a whale covered with barnacles.

u Allow your active imagination to work with the dream image. The woman who dreamed about the whale imagined herself cleaning the barnacles from the whale’s flesh.

u Trust your dreams and your ability to heal. Every thought and action is a message to your immune system. Create positive messages based on the active healing images in your dreams.

“My hope is that some part of my story would speak to other men and women and maybe confirm for them that their own healing path is one that works for them,” said Burch. “And inspire them to look at additional tools that they can see in their own healing.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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